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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Smithereens’ Comedy of Desire

Toni Martin shines in ‘Spike Heels’

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A contemporary take on Pygmalion, Theresa Rebeck's Spike Heels involves a woman who is learning from two different men. Each man wants something different from her.

Appealing on numerous levels, Toni Martin is beautifully empathic as Georgie, the woman in question in Smithereen Productions’ staging. A working-class woman struggling to make ends meet, she is introduced to classic literature by the guy who lives in the apartment below—an author named Andrew played by David Franz. Franz is given the least appealing character in the story and he deals with it pretty well.

Andrew has arranged a job for Georgie through his lawyer friend Edward, played by Nate Press. Press can make almost any role seem appealing and here he's given the opportunity to work with someone who, on the surface, is very, very sleazy. The depth Press lends to that sleaziness makes his emotional development feel quite authentic.

Bethany Batson rounds out the cast toward the end of the play as a woman with an intimate past that includes both Andrew and Edward. Batson is probably given the biggest challenge. She has to show up in a plot that's already advanced pretty far and interface with it on a very intimate level without slowing things down. Batson does an admirable job. 

Having been a part of countless plots over the years, the central themes of desire and identity at the heart of the play would feel very weak were it not for solidly entertaining performances in the ensemble.

Smithereen Productions' Spike Heels runs through April 27 at the Underground Collaborative, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. (Grand Avenue Mall, lower level). All shows are at 7:30 pm. For ticket reservations, visit smithereenproductions.com.

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