If you’re at all averse to high-concept “director’s theater”—or to transatlantic flights in coach—you might be wary of Wickets, which time-warps María Irene Fornés’s 1977 classic Fefu and Her Friends from a 1930s New England country home to a 1971 New York–to–Paris red-eye. After packing spectators into an unsettlingly accurate-feeling fuselage, an octet of silk-scarved stewardesses dole out period in-flight magazines and suggestive offerings of “warm nuts” and “moist towelettes.” These would be Fefu (the one in charge) and her “friendly skies” friends.
Amid all the kitsch appeal, a thoughtful flight plan does emerge. Wearing their painfully form-fitting uniform skirts as tightly as their smiles, the stewardesses perform pre-feminist femininity in extremis. While interrupted by parodies of standard flight-attendant routines, much of Fornés’s drama—about lonely affluent women seeking a safe space for female bonding and desire—remains. And in contrast to all the fun, the characters’ stolen moments of intimacy with each other seem all the more precious, momentarily piercing their masks of stiff hairspray and heavy eyeliner.
There’s much for Fefu fans to dispute in this radical adaptation by the company Trick Saddle, and, inevitably, many details just don’t translate. (The “wickets,” for instance, figure in croquet games, now implausibly played in the plane’s aisles.) Still, the deconstruction honors Fornés’s essence, and as an intriguing and creative piece in its own right, Wickets is faux-site-specific performance at its best. GARRETT EISLER
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 14, 2009