Beautiful Bodies Review - A Stellar Theater Performance

"Beautiful Bodies" is a tale about women's friendships and life choices. Six women in their thirties gather on a stormy winter night at a New York apartment to celebrate the pregnancy of one of their friends, Claire. All women are in a state of turmoil, with boyfriends being sought and dumped, careers soaring and floundering, and biological clocks ticking and tocking. The comedy bonds the performers and the audience by inviting the spectators to join the party in the apartment.

Although Laura Cunningham felt that it was very difficult to find a play for six women, her engaging and witty dramatic comedy fills her characters with honest lines. Each woman discusses a universal subject of femininity and reveals the essence of her most intimate moments in life, especially with men. Each woman shares her unique experience of life and men with a poignant monologue of sadness, despair and happiness. Each discourse encapsulated the audience as the subject matter was personified.

This show is a juicy, jazzy party with a bottomless punch bowl of wit. Six longtime girlfriends get together to toast and roast the mommy-to-be, Claire. They come together for an evening of wine, fun and gossip that quickly forces their true feelings to the surface in all their wonderful, funny, endearing and heart-wrenching glory! However, they all find out a little more about each other than they had bargained.

Jessie, an independent woman, is the hostess of the party. She's the gatekeeper and peacekeeper of the group. The setting takes place in her living room with the audience as a fly on the wall. Jessie is divorced, lonely and has been abstinent for the last three years. Her love life consists of distant love affairs, but she is yearning for someone close and permanent in her life.

Nina, the funny red head of the cast, has bee rejected by men and overweight most of her life. Yet, she's content with her life and always gives comfort to her friends when needed.

Martha, the villain of the play, is a control monster and materialistic. She has a flourishing real-estate business and impotent fiancé. The five other gals love and hate her. Martha's snobbish attitude and Claire carefree life clash, and the other girls do whatever they can to keep them from ruining the party.  As the rich girl, Martha puts down everyone and uses her money to buy love. Although very successful, she is a sad soul.

Lisbeth is the romantic and sensitive woman of the piece. She is a naïve and idealistic. Her breakup with her boyfriend a year ago still has not settled with her, but in her mind, he is still with her somehow. Lisbeth's obsession with her ex seems to be pushing her over the deep end.

Claire, the pregnant guest of honor and free-spirit hippie of the group, is determined to raise her child alone and has no worry about her child being fatherless or any other worry for that matter.

Waitress, Sue Carol, has just left her unfaithful husband. She is depressive and uses marijuana to sedate her sadness.

Everyone will identify with someone in the group.  Celibate Jessie, the hostess, is extremely distracted by her new love affair, but tries hard to control her emotions. Lisbeth is so fragile and mystic. Sue Carol, the professional wacktress (cross between a waitress and an actress), knows she must leave her husband tonight.  Meanwhile, Nina cannot eat the chocolate soufflé cake she has baked for the occasion. Horrible Martha is the friend everyone loves to hate, while Claire is the soulful, unmarried mother-to-be.

There is a great deal of suspense surrounding these six women during this dinner party. I became quite anxious over whether Jessie would get her call or whether awful Martha would leave before she ruined the party. Part of the tension is generated by the city itself—the storm, the traffic and the apartment--New York is genuinely a seventh character in "Beautiful Bodies."

The ladies' major preoccupations are theirs bodies and men. Nina tells Lisbeth, "You are too thin". Director, Heidi Yudis was extremely specific about clothes, atmosphere, relationships and food, which testimony to the fact that every woman obsesses about her weight, wardrobe, appearance and diet--the prime aspects of female friendships. Men appear only as topics of conversation and offstage (e.g., on the telephone).

Cunningham succeeded in her quest to gather six interesting, fascinating and real female characters. It was an amazing cast, which proves the name "Beautiful Bodies." However, I would have chosen the title "Beautiful Inside" which well reveals the main subject of the story.

This particular performance of "Beautiful Bodies" was the cast's last performance of a two-year acting program at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting. It was a pleasure to watch six talented artists depict very different personalities. I was especially impressed with how each woman brought her unique character to life. Laura Cunningham painted a brilliant portrait of femininity in this comedy. "Beautiful Bodies" is a witty and satisfying comedy about the lives of urban women.


More Information: Stella Adler Academy of Acting, 6773 Hollywood Boulevard, 2nd floor, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Telephone: (323) 465–4446


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