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Arts and Entertainment

Hollywood Fringe Festival: Head Over Heels

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A still from 'Head over Heels' at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.

A still from 'Head over Heels' at the Hollywood Fringe Festival.
- by Stephanie Taylor for LAist

Eve eats a polar bear. Ophelia dishes about the other man. A downsized middle-aged woman blackmails her employers to get her job back. Head Over Heels joins the long list of Fringe shows with something to say, but kind enough to allow the audience to have fun while it does so. A laugh-out-loud funny yet thought-provoking piece on what it means to come into existence as a woman, this series of vignettes features an array of characters both infamous and unknown confronting their fears, heartaches and own sense of power.

The show opens as the original girl-woman Eve (played by Kirsten Kuiken) reflects on what it is to become something out of nothing and the accompanying overwhelming emotions. As the show progresses, the audience meets the savvy employee using her colleagues' inappropriate emails to keep her job and demand a fair wage, a late-night disc jockey who desperately just wants to be heard, a med student from a war-ravaged country who is angry because her lover sent her flowers instead of food, and many more. In a personal favorite, actress Sammi Smith asks God for permission to burn down the house of her ex's new lover, rationalizing that she is doing God's will. Asking for a sign and taking the lack thereof as God's tacit approval, Smith accidentally knocks over her can of gasoline on the way out of church. Throughout the show, we always return to Eve, as she searches for food, runs from Adam and tries to make sense out of "paradise."

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Writer Eric Czuleger has done a masterful job weaving together these stories. Head Over Heels is much less angry and confrontational than perhaps the most famous feminist series of monologues--and truthfully not as powerful--but manages to claim a space in feminist theater in its own right. A few of the vignettes lacked the insight and timing that marked the rest of the production, but overall it's a fun and fiery ride through lives of very diverse women. The actresses each provide strong comedic timing as they tackles themes of identity, independence and vulnerability with a cathartic wit.

Produced by Coeurage Theatre Company, who says its mission is to make impassioned theater accessible for all, "Head Over Heels" boasts an extremely talented cast, a tightly written script and what appears to be a strong production team. Despite the relatively young age of the group, most being recent university grads, they seem to be a company to watch.

Admission is pay what you want. One remaining performance: 9 p.m. on 6/21 @ Comedy Sportz LA.