In an age when technology continues to grow exponentially while cultural conventions are still residual from a century ago, society becomes riddled with contradictions and people struggle to cope with their conflicting social expectations. In the incredibly relevant and scandalous play, The Feminism of a Soft Merlot or (How the Donkey Got Punched), these contradictions are thoroughly explored from a feminist perspective. The production, presented by The Ivy Theatre Company, examines the implications of living in a society in which women are beginning to assume a more predominant role in the work force, yet still expected to adhere to standard marriage roles, meaning female sexuality is simultaneously encouraged and shamed, pornography has flocked to the mainstream, and the concept of feminism is often misunderstood. Directed by Audrey Alford and written by award-winning playwright Micheline Auger, The Feminism of a Soft Merlot or (How the Donkey Got Punched) is truly progressive and creates the groundwork for a much needed discussion about the subtle (and not so subtle) sexist undertones that still plague our society.
The first scene opens in an apartment complex, and revolves around the hilarious banter between two seemingly opposing best friends as they attempt to motivate themselves to relinquish their snacks and go to yoga. Kareena (played by Diana Oh) is initially depicted as the more “sexually empowered” of the two, at one point encouraging her prude BFF Sam (played by Lauren Dortch-Crozier) that “every strong independent woman should have a dildo!” Throughout the conversation, Kareena, along with her seemingly perfect boyfriend Teddy (played by Patrick Daniel Smith), tries to convince Sam to go on a date with a guy that Kareena met via online dating, who just so happens to be a pornographer. Right off the bat, the audience is presented with two misinformed interpretations of feminism. We have Kareena, the strong, empowered and sexually liberated woman, who also prides herself on her “guy-like” characteristics and condemns all things typically girly. And then there is Sam, who condemns the objectification of women’s bodies, but is guilty of slut-shaming and identifying with the notion of “female chastity.”
As the play develops, the audience follows Sam’s exploration of her sexual boundaries with her new pornographer boyfriend Kyle (played by Justin Anselmi), and Kareena and Teddy, the quintessential modern couple, as they struggle to maintain a traditional relationship. By the end, we are forced to contemplate who is the real “donkey,” or victim of society. Is it Teddy, the sweet, faithful, well-meaning boyfriend who painstakingly tries to uphold society’s version of a “perfect relationship” as well as his own masculinity at the expense of Kareena’s desires? Is it Sam, who achieves sexual empowerment, but only after the surrender of her identity? Or is it Kareena, the strong-willed promiscuous woman who can’t seem to get a handle on monogamy?
This deliciously complex show is a MUST SEE and will leave you with your head spinning and yearning for a sequel. Don’t miss your chance to see The Feminism of a Soft Merlot or (How the Donkey Got Punched), playing on Saturday, June 14, 9PM | Sunday, June 15, 3PM | Wednesday, June 18, 8PM | Thursday, June 19, 8PM | Saturday, June 21, 7PM | Sunday, June 22, 7PM. Buy your tickets here and visit the Ivy Theatre Company on their website.
Presented by Ivy Theatre Company
15 West 28th Street, 2nd Floor