The year 1985 marked the appearance of the Bechdel test, a simple way of evaluating films that can be applied to all fiction. It goes like this: (1) There must be at least two women in the story; (2) They have to talk to each other; (3) They have to talk about something other than a man. This week and next, September 7-16, two plays will be running in repertory at Center Stage Theater that pass the Bechdel test with room to spare. They are Edward Albee’s Three Tall Women and Peter Shaffer’s Lettice and Lovage. The product of a collaboration between the DramaDogs and DogStar theater companies, this exciting package will take place under the banner of “Women Forward” in recognition of the fine opportunities it offers for both actors and audiences to revel in the ways and wisdom that only women can offer.
Three Tall Women, which will be directed by Nita June Davanzo, employs a clever conceit to accomplish something few stories of any kind even attempt — the comprehensive analysis of an entire lifetime. Three actresses — E. Bonnie Lewis, Leah Salinas, and Lynn Robinson — play three different characters in the first act and then return as the same character at three different ages in the second. Lettice and Lovage, which will feature E. Bonnie Lewis, Meredith McMinn, and Justin Davanzo and is directed by Ken Gilbert, tells the story of a volatile alliance between two British women animated by the same passion, a loathing for the impact of modern architecture on the fabric of life in the United Kingdom.
Nita June Davanzo credits Gilbert and Lewis of DramaDogs with the foresight to book Center Stage Theater during the coveted month of September and relates that due to the high cost of mounting a full production, the repertory arrangement has proven to be an excellent solution. The plays will alternate weeknights and double up with matinees and evening performances on the weekends. For lovers of the special chemistry that only great acting by strong women can produce, this promises to be a brilliant fortnight.