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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Women and Guns’ shoots blanks


    Courtesy of Rachel Davis

    Actresses Denise Blum (left) and Bebe Fischer perform in the play “Women and Guns” by Steve Gold. The play addresses the various issues modern-day military women must face.

    “Women and Guns,” an original production from The Tucson Alliance of Dramatic Artists playing at the Temple of Music and Art Cabaret Theatre, attempts to tell the unheard stories of American women deployed into combat.

    Experiences of women in the military should be told but not through this play. Too few women and too few examples of military life mislead in the production’s title.

    The play, selected from a national playwriting contest won by Steve Gold, struggles to find a consistent voice and theme. It is unclear whether it is a psychological analysis of gender and war or a love story with a pinch of post-traumatic stress disorder.

    The scenery is minimalistic with a chain-link fence, ragged barbed wired and burlap sandbags. A single bench, a car parts and a couch are shuffled onto the stage, depending on the scene.

    The show has many faults. Elbows bent 45 to 90 degrees, palms up, awkward blocking and line recitation cast a pall over the production.

    The excessive number of scenes featuring two inconsequential male characters, played by Nowell Kral and Eric Everts, reciting amateurish dialogue removes any opportunity to flesh out the lead actress’ character.

    Bebe Fischer plays Marine Military Police Officer Tiffany Hansen, who is set up on a blind date by her cousin before September 2001.

    Tiffany’s background story involves an abusive, drug-addicted mother. Sadly, this does not make her character interesting, lead to any emotional investment or factor into later scenes.

    Chemistry between Fischer and her character’s love interest, Bobby (Everts), is awkward. Each physical contact between the actors fails to convince anyone that an emotional connection develops between them.

    “The world would be a better place, don’t you think?” Tiffany says, her clunky justification preceding a random declaration for marriage equality.

    Bobby concedes and apologizes for asking Tiffany if she was a lesbian. The playwright seems to think it’s offensive to ask your date if they have the similar sexual preferences.

    On leave from Baghdad, Tiffany visits Bobby. Her dazed expression and inability to convey her war experiences sidestep the anticipated illumination of a woman’s distinct perspective on the casualties of war.

    It is a misstep to present Tiffany as the lead when it is her fellow Marine, played by Denise Blum, who pushes the limp story forward.

    Valerie (Blum), a wife, mother and Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, is the real gem of the show.

    Blum confessed during the post-show discussion to not having time to research the play’s subject matter, as she was cast 10 days prior to opening night. This admission shows her ability to invest emotionally and physically in her character with ease. In the play, Blum’s simple yet natural gestures are consistent with her character’s brusque vulnerability. A stretch of the leg, a single touch of the tip of a gun and change of posture in civilian clothes indicate technique others in the production lacked. The minimal tension slumps into the climactic scene, used as a means to bypass any original insightful observations in favor of a predictable and quick ending.

    “Women and Guns” is frequently interrupted by a silhouetted George W. Bush giving snippets of real speeches on the progression of the war. Bush is voiced by director Mike Sultzbach without the usual exaggerated Texas accent, but the inclusion is still unnecessary.

    The post-show discussions led by TADA!’s co-founder and producer, Sheldon Metz, offered veterans in the audience a chance to tell their stories and offer production advice.

    A few Vietnam veterans relayed their connection between their untold stories and experiences of being cast aside to that of current military women returning home with little accolades, trapped in political debates on the merit of the war they fight. 

    Women veterans and long-ignored Vietnam veterans deserve to have their stories told — just not like this.

    “Women and Guns” will be at the Cabaret Theatre until Jan. 25.


    Follow Anna Mae Ludlum on Twitter.

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