Actress Fury Delivers

Actress Fury is a great example of what can happen when you get three fearless women performing together in a show that holds nothing sacred and nothing precious.  I saw Actress Fury on Saturday Sept 13, 2014- one of the ridiculously hot summer days we have been experiencing in LA.  My experience of this performance fit right in with the absurd heat of the local weather!  The performance group is called Grand Lady Dance and this whirlwind of a piece was created by Jennie Mary Tai Liu with Hannah Heller and Alexa Weir.

From start to finish these women performed at high speed in a highly choreographed and excellently rehearsed experimental performance that included movement and spoken word.  The show began with a piece of text which the dancers spoke in various combinations of solo and unison, as they took off their housecoats and dressed for the performance.  I instantly recognized the text from the opening monologue Martha Graham gives in her classic dance film, A Dancer’s World.  The use of this excerpted text (that is probably only recognizable to academically trained dancers) is representative of the acute intelligence behind the creative choices throughout the show.  Each moment was brilliantly rehearsed so that movement and speech flowed through the trio without break.  The show maintained a wild pace, tumbling through various scenarios typical of a young single actress’s lifestyle, never missing a beat and creating such interwoven transitions that you could never be quite sure when one moment ended and the next began.  This run on sentence format is what successfully drove the show forward in its relentless way.  The absurdity of each moment was trumped by the ridiculousness of the next, and the next and the next, until it seemed totally appropriate for a Hannah Heller to give a nonsensical monologue on shitting.

These women hold nothing back.  They are fearless.  The shock value of the sexually explicit moments was tempered by the exquisite precision of these performers so that the design and execution of the moment won out in the theatrical experience.  The use of repeated words or sounds such as “killin’ it, killin’ it, killin’ it, killin’ it, killin’ it. . .” created a rhythmic platform for the movement that underscored each moment of their dressing room adventures.   The abstract use of time took the audience into the rehearsal process, into the dressing room, and into these women’s lives.  The three women were each incredibly attractive, and yet sweaty, hot, and disgusting messes.  I commend their willingness to go to the edge of sanity and then pole vault to the other side of reason.  One through line in the show in the form of a pink painted wooden spike, that was at times a sword, a cane, and a phallus (more than once).

Each shift in style or narrative was appropriately supported by Julia Bembenek and Mark Nieto’s music that included driving electronic music.  The costumes by Wendy Yang Bailey took these women from frumpy housewives to high heeled, warrior, disco vixens.  Adam Hunter, through the crude use of low tech flood lights in addition to a few well placed theatrical lights, was able to transport the audience in and out of reality in a way that was both effective and supportive of the overall backstage aesthetic of the piece.

It is so wonderful to see dance blended so seamlessly with theater as it was in Actress Fury.  While more than one verbal reference was lost on me, the words themselves were always clear even as these performers danced with aerobic vigor.  This performance was demanding physically and emotionally.  The women were tireless, pushing the pace of the performance with a powerful sense of urgency and drive.  In some ways, it was like watching three women with acute onset of ADHD.  Despite the out of control feeling of the work, the design of the piece can only be executed by consistent performers who can offer a rock solid deliver.  These women deliver!

Actress Fury was produced by Show Box LA and Los Angeles Performance Practice as part of the 2014 Live Arts Exchange (LAX) produced at the Bootleg Theater over the course of 11 days.  Shows are still being performed through Sept 21st.  Get more information at  It is a great way to get your mind-bending performance experience in before the end of the year.

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