Wow Mom, Wow is a palindrome whichever way you read it. Flipped head over heels, the title of Faye Driscoll’s latest piece could be words exclaimed by a pleasantly shocked daughter: “Mom? Wow, Mom!” And any mom attending this funny, impudent feminist circus of a dance better be pretty cool, because these grrrls are channeling their inner wild animals.
The beginning is a stunner. The doors of two dressing rooms stage right open, and as the light inside streams into the dark studio theater, 10 women pad out on all fours and arrange themselves in a line, butts to us. The doors swing shut behind them. As Amanda K. Ringger brings up the lights, Katy Pyle emerges from a third room and, like a hostess who hasn’t expected this many guests, greets us extra-enthusiastically, complimenting various spectators on their attire or good looks. As she moves along the line of women whose faces we’ve yet to see, she names them, assuring us how happy every one of them is that we’re here. Each performer emphasizes Pyle’s words by a little wriggle of pleasure or a more exuberant jabber of butt and legs.
The women aren’t faceless for long. Dressed in sporty gray stretch-jersey outfits with touches of color, they rise to seethe and vibrate with repressed rage. They growl, wag their tongues, and claw in our direction. They hunker down and grunt as if trying to shit out weeks of constipated rage. But their catfights end in nuzzling and grooming, and they periodically crawl docilely back to the dressing rooms. In one corny lineup, they offer occasionally treacly optimism, like “I am at peace with the universe.”
Confidence vies with insecurity, and awkwardness with expertise. Holding a mirror, Pyle riffs brilliantly off the line, “Is it really a person standing in front of you?” The roughhouse sensuality of a duet between Lily Baldwin and Noopur Singha is interrupted by Pyle asking mildly, “What are you doing?” The others cluster and babble the question endlessly while Baldwin says—and finally yells—”I don’t know!” Pyle, Baldwin, and Toni Melaas grapple with raw vigor, but in ensemble passages—to an array of raucous recorded music by, among others, Four Tet, Dynasty Handbag, and Rod Stewart—Driscoll deploys loose-flung gestures and vigorous stomping into contrapuntal patterns as neat as any ballet choreographer’s. Wow Mom, Wow may go over the top at times, but how could you not love women who scream into pink hairbrushes and say things like “I wish I could give birth to a cat”?