Updated: Mar 20, 2019
★★★★☆ - Delicious
Whoa! What the f… There’s so much salty language, and so much blood, you’d swear you were watching a Tarantino film. Oh, wait. What? It is a Quentin Tarantino script—turned on its ear with an all-female cast—as Erika Soerensen’s Reservoir Dolls flips the film script of Reservoir Dogs into a stage play for women. Every Mr. a Ms.
In this age of equality, of Charlize Theron putting serious hurt on entire bands of bad guys, why not? It’s an opportunity for women to prove they’ve got balls of steel. And these chicks are as bad-ass as they come. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t come off as odd in the least.
This ensemble piece is brash and brutal, and damn well done. Director Troy Heard put his cast through the paces with proper braggadocio. There’s just the right tinge of estrogen-turned-testosterone that it all works. The tone is parody and the cast is having a blast with it, treating it all real enough to make it believable.
In the infamous diner scene discussion of Madonna, the cast doesn’t let the dialogue get in the way as they discuss the meaning behind “Like a Virgin.” That makes the scene just as fun as it was when the words came out of the mouths of men.
As Jo Cabot, Gail Romero rules the gang of seven with an iron fist. There’s no bullshit, no pandering to niceties as she gets right down to business. Romero carries herself with chutzpah and never drops character for a second as she bullies her girls into submission. Yet her speech pattern attacks the lines a bit too hard, with emphasis on so many words that, at times, the intent gets lost.
Deven Ceriotti packs enough punch as Nice Girl Edie, Jo’s daughter. She’s the perfect Second in Charge. She can laugh and make nice one minute and punch someone’s lights out the next. Ceriotti blusters and swaggers and there’s no doubt she can back it all up with follow-through.
Pink provides the comic relief of the show and Jillian Austin is up to the task. When Austin hides behind a cop cuffed to a chair and says, “Now, ladies.” she maintains the right amount of fear in her voice and still gets the laugh. Austin maintains a haughty insouciance with great flair.
Valerie Carpenter Bernstein brings real depth to White as she tries to protect one of the other women. There’s never a hint of backing down from threats and the genuine concern for her fallen comrade remains evident. Bernstein brings a level of class to the character that one might say was missing in the film portrayal.
In one particularly gruesome scene, Lissa Townsend Rodgers is over-the-top frightening as Blonde. The malice boils to the surface and Rodgers grim, sinister smile is enough to make the testicles shrivel on any man who’s the target of her torture. But, the seductive dance meant to titillate her captive comes off as awkward because she doesn’t relax into it enough.
Abby Dandy as Orange fares well until the final scene. Whether an actor choice or a directorial one, she’s got way too much eager energy for a woman dying from a gunshot wound to the belly. She’s lost so much blood, she’d have lost consciousness. The heaving gasps for breath come across more like a victim of a serious panic attack.
Andrew Young is the poor captive cop, beaten within an inch of his life. His howls of pain and pleas for mercy as he’s tortured to give up the name of the spy among the gang are heart-wrenching. He begs to be spared for the sake of his wife and child with tension evident in every muscle.
The fight choreography, at least from my angle of observation, needs some work. Punches which don’t come close to landing, early reaction to hair grabbing, or kicks that don’t land take away from the realism. The technical aspects show attention to detail from an appropriately grungy set designed by Roxy Mojica to Ceriotti’s special effects.
Overall, it’s a helluva fast-moving production. One doesn’t have to be a Tarantino fan to enjoy this. Yes, it’s violent, but it’s bloody, bloody fun.
What: Reservoir Dolls
When: 8 p.m. Thursday - Saturday and through November 30
5 p.m. Sundays January 24, 31
Where: Onyx Theatre, 953-16B E Sahara Avenue
Tickets: $20 (702-732-7225; www.onyxtheatre.com)
Grade: **** (Delicious)
Producer: Off-Strip Productions; Director: Troy Heard; Scenic Designer: Roxy Mojica; Lighting Designer: Taylor Ryberg; Costume Designer: Sam Murphy; Sound Designer: Joel Ruud; Special Effects Designer: Deven Ciriotti; Stage Manager: Coral Benedetti