New Theatre's Ladies and Not-So-Gentle Women could be considered a Victorian-era Sex and the City.
With Kimberly Daniel, Patti Gardner, Lisa Morgan, Aubrey Shavonn, Annemaria Rajala, and Tara Vodihn. Directed by Rafael de Acha. Through December 31. New Theatre, 4120 Laguna St, Coral Gables; 305-443-5909, www.new-theatre.org.
But the four New York women at the center of Alfred Allan Lewis's memory play are not your average singletons searching for Mr. Right. These ladies are the crme de la femmes of high society, pioneers of new female roles and careers at the turn of the century. This quartet which includes famous names such as Anne Vanderbilt, Elizabeth Marbury, Elsie de Wolfe, and Anne Morgan is perhaps the one that laid the first stone on the road of female independence walked by Carrie Bradshaw and her gal-pals today.
Presented without intermission, this world-premiere play (adapted by the Miami playwright from his book of the same title) presents a vivid picture of society during the era in which Marbury (Kimberly Daniel) became one of the most powerful women in American theater. Lewis brings to life this influential figure and, by tracing her stoic achievements and controversial loves, demonstrates how she opened the door for women worldwide to legitimately earn as much as their male counterparts.
Peppered throughout this 90-minute play are a slew of songs that flawlessly transport the audience from the Big Apple to Ernest Hemingway's expatriate Paris and occupied France during World War II. The era that propelled America to the status of world power has been seldom seen through such an intimate, vivid, and realistic lens with spiced-up social history including juicy gossip of the gang's alleged affairs.
The cast of six gives a lyrically scorching and solid performance, but the fleeting glimpses into the events in their pampered lives fail to arouse emotional reaction. By the time the lead character settles into her wheelchair to await death, there won't be a teary eye in the house.