Texan firecracker and voyeur Hannah Mae usurps Maude's quiet and obsessive compulsive life in upper-class Westchester County in John Ford Noonan's comedy about female cuckolds and the spousal ties that bind. With the rich aroma of coffee wafting through the audience and a set that's true to suburbia, many of the production elements for this show are impressive. However, the plot development is so incredulous that it resembles an overly-extended ruse that even these gifted actresses can't pull off.
Reviewed by Cindy Pierre
It never ceases to amaze me what set designers can do with Manhattan Theatre Source's modest space. In John Ford Noonan's A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking, David Roman and Ed McNamee transform the set into a warm, enviable home. Cookies are baked and laundry is meticulously folded by Maude Mix, model housewife and upstanding citizen. As we watch Maude go through the carefully calculated steps of her life, it is difficult to discern why flashy and overzealous new neighbor Hannah Mae would be fascinated by her subject. And from henceforward unravels some questionable, albeit entertaining, events.
Actress Nancy Sirianni is incredibly comfortable in Maude's skin as she exhibits poise, rigidity, and an understated sexiness. Ironically, though quite up to the role, Monica Russell's Hannah Mae seems slightly forced. With her gaudy reds to Maude's grays and blues, her lack of decorum and imposing presence are seemingly a costume that she dons with the beginning of each scene.
Intermittently, the pace of the scene changes should be hastened and the cues for the change music should be modified. As these changes are performed in the dark with no visual stimuli, the attention given to the mistakes is amplified.
Noonan is remiss to have Carl Joe, husband to Hannah Mae and a major vehicle in the plot, remain an offstage character. It is a practical strategy in the interest of keeping this play a two-character and female-only affair, but it is also an anticlimax. After all, Carl Joe is a catalyst for the preposterous change in Hannah Mae and Maude's relationship, and the men in the women's lives are, indubitably, what shapes them into the people that they are.
As characters go, Maude and Hannah Mae defy the literary laws. They encounter a conflict, metamorphose in response to it, engage in poorly executed fight choreography intended to be comical, but in the end, regress to their former selves. These white chicks rarely sit down to talk, but this doesn't impede their growing need for one other. Though far from plausible and ankle-deep in lunacy, A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking does manage to titillate and entertain.
Manhattan TheatreSource177 MacDougal Street, NYC 10011