Spike Heels

Fringe 045

marina mae gwynne

Spike Heels is a play that utterly baffles me. Written by American playwright Theresa Rebeck in 1990 it seems like the first draft of a play written by a young playwright filled with promise who spent months honing the first scene in the play and then wrote the other two over one weekend and a bottle of whiskey.

Georgie storms into Andrew’s apartment as he is preparing for his date with Lydia oozing sex appeal and raving against her boss, Andrew’s best friend Edward, who has threatened to rape her if she doesn’t consent to sleeping with him. Andrew and Georgie butt heads about whether it is Andrew’s job to rush in to protect her from Edward, or whether she is able to handle the situation in her own way on her own terms. She then she calls into question the nature of their friendship and whether Andrew also sees her merely as an object to be conquered, a fetish, a Pygmalion project or a novelty instead of a human being.

I fell in love with Georgie immediately. She is a beautifully crafted, empowering, flawed, female character who falls into familiar traps that many women struggle with, but who continually refuses to be boxed in, stereotyped or pushed around by anyone. The other characters are not as strong, but Andrew has the potential to be even more of a multifaceted, privileged, intellectual young white male realizing his own penchant toward chauvinism that Georgie forces him to confront for the first time. I like the idea of the play taking place all in that apartment, just between the two of them, and the stakes escalating as the time ticks closer to an unseen Lydia’s return.

But as the play unfolds things become increasingly muddier. Andrew and Edward begin to meld into one another in a way that sacrifices their personalities and sense of being individuals rather than prototypes. It is problematic when the rape attempt by Edward is conveniently trivialized and disappears altogether later and Lydia does little to make the arc of the action more interesting, dramatic or to raise the stakes.

Director Sam Horak is able to do her best work in the first scene, benefiting from Rebeck’s strong writing, but she keeps a nice sense of cramped invasion of space in the apartments that works well to shove these four characters up against each other, often against their wills, and it makes the constant unwillingness for anyone to leave a little more plausible.

Through it all is Marina Mae Gwynne’s powerhouse performance as Georgie that keeps the audience intensely captivated. She slides effortlessly between brazen and vulnerable and manages to make a very flawed and very confused young woman a kick ass heroine in a way that never feels contrived or forced. I am already looking so forward to seeing Gwynne on the stage again soon; she is a spitfire and a triumph.

TWISI Rating: 

3 of 5 stars

Spike Heels plays at the Museum of Natural History (1747 Summer Street) as part of the Atlantic Fringe Festival at the following times: 

Sunday, Sep 8 • 5:45pm

Tickets are $7.00 and are available in advance online at this website or 30 minutes before each show at the venue on the day of the performance. All tickets bought in person must be purchased with either cash or credit. For more information please visit this website or call 902.422.7604 between 10:00am and 5:00pm. 

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