Review of The Fight - The Daily Beast
A schism in feminism is the subject of Jonathan Leaf’s The Fight, a Storm Theatre production playing at The Grand Hall, in the basement of St. Mary Church on the Lower East Side. Leaf’s play is based on a personal and professional fallout between Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, and sets the modern (Steinem) against the old (Friedan) of the modern feminism movement. (For dramatic purposes the women are renamed Phyllis Feinberg and Doris Margulies respectively.)
Michael Abrams’ set is small and simple, evoking the offices of both women, as a young author, Caitlin (Laura Bozzone), sets out to find out the truth about what happened to votes that were due Doris at a key vote.
This may be lost in the mists of time (the modern part of the play is set in the 1990s, many years later, with Caitlin squirreling away to get to the truth and a name-making book deal), but in zipping between eras the truth is finally revealed; and that truth is bound up in politics, different beliefs, jealousy, and simple personal dislike.
Leaf not only suggests that idealism and ambition
can co-exist, but how one can energize and corrupt
the other. This echoes resonantly, and literally,
in the basement of St. Mary’s.
Leaf skillfully parses the cultural differences between the women; Doris insists she is not anti-gay, when everything she says or does would imply that she is, while Phyllis’ silky sophistication hides its own ugliness and past pains.
The acting company, which includes Matthew Provenza and Mark Quiles as the various men in the women’s lives, are all subtly excellent, and director Peter Dobbins makes the most of a very small space.
All three lead characters are out for their ends and to burnish their own accomplishments, and they all believe in what they believe in passionately. Leaf not only suggests that idealism and ambition can co-exist, but how one can energize and corrupt the other. This echoes resonantly, and literally, in the basement of St. Mary’s.
The Fight is at The Grand Hall, 440 Grand St., NYC, until Nov. 18.
This is a repost from an article originally posted on The Daily Beast by Tim Teeman.