The Storm Theatre Company presents yet another fine play by Jonathan Leaf. The Fight is a powerful and thoughtful exploration of feminism, and it chronicles the birth of second wave feminism.
Grad student Caitlin Schultz (Laura Bozzone) interviews leaders of the feminist movement for her thesis about second-wave feminism, which she hopes to turn into a book. She seeks the truth behind a ballot count at the National Women’s Conference in Houston, where ballots for Doris Margolies (Judith Hawking) disappeared. As Caitlin interviews Doris and Phyllis Feinberg (Fleur Alys Dobbins), she learns more about their personal lives, their perspectives on the feminism, and the crux of their conflicts. Their conversations lead Caitlin to question her own ideas of feminism.
Jonathan Leaf’s play is crafted with meticulous research, flawless subtext and circumstances that resonate with personal and social significance in our present society. Using the interview as a storytelling device, he focuses on the difference between these two women, their ideals and their complicated relationship with each other; it also demonstrates the effects of their work in the movement via Caitlin’s character.
Judith Hawking and Fleur Alys Dobbins are masterful in their portrayals of these contrasting women. Hawking creates a brassy, blunt and sometimes aggressive yet very personal character while Alys Dobbins give her character a more tender, yet firm and business-like presence. In the flashback scenes both women deliver different aspects (vocally and physically) of their characters that clearly inform their choices in the present-day scenes. Mark Quiles and Matthew Provenza excel in their various supporting roles.
Caroline Eng’s sound design is full of music by female artists. It makes a powerhouse playlist by spot lighting songs from the 60s to the 90s. It also included audio clips of women’s speeches about feminism. It was perfect.
There are several moments where the lighting feels spotty, yet this seems more an issue of the theatre space and less a flaw in Michael Abram’s design. Abram’s scenic design serves the base function of the two spaces where the interviews take place, while giving us a clear sense of time and place.
The seamless transitions and quick dialogue keep the play moving forward at brisk pace. Peter Dobbins’ direction feels dynamic and thoughtful. Everything about this compelling production is powerful.
The Fight, The Storm Theatre Company, The Theatre at Grand Hall, 440 Grand Street. Closes November 18th.