Review: Fight City (Factory Theater)

| July 29, 2017

Kim Boler stars as Erica Burdon in Fight City, Factory Theater            


Fight City
Written by Scott OKen
Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map)
thru Aug 26  |  tix: $25  |  more info    
Check for half-price tickets   


If only women ran the world…how different would it be?


Brittany Ellis, Mandy Walsh and Kim Boler star in Fight City, Factory Theater

Factory Theater presents
Fight City

Review by Johanna Dalton

In the dystopian future world of world premiere Fight City, set in 2077, gender roles are reversed and women are in charge of law enforcement and presumably everything else. Though guns and knives are all but eliminated, violence and crime are still on the rise, and it falls to the women, the peace keepers or PK’s, to keep order. Counter to what some might like to predict, once in authority the female officers of the Central City Police Harrison Weger and Ashley Yates star as Weatherfoot and Argent in Fight City, Factory TheaterDepartment (CCPD) exhibit all the same bullying, violent actions of stereotypical male police, as well as reverse misogyny toward a rare, new male recruit and other men they encounter. The play uses loud, crass, in-your-face language to forcefully depict the dual problems of rampant violence and gender domination that plague our society today.

Officer Barb Davies (Jennifer Betancourt), the most highly skilled member of the force, realizes the futility of meeting hatred and killing with more of the same and tries to convince the others on the force to follow the rules, arresting offenders for “processing” rather than taking them “out back” to be dealt with. The action takes place against a backdrop of protests, largely but not only by men, chanting “equal rights!” and a rising movement, again also including a female element, to undo wide-spread male infertility, the source of which is never explained. Perhaps the reason for female domination has something to do with the infertility of men in this time, but perhaps the reason does not matter in the context of this imagined world; it simply is, and, as are all the other elements of the play, is presented for the audience to chew on. It might make you wish for a knife and fork.

Kim Boler stars as Erica Burdon in Fight City, Factory Theater

The ensemble provides high energy performances that allow the angry tension to remain pervasive throughout, keeping the entire production aloft. Betancourt’s Officer Barb Davies delivers convincingly on this as well as on the more subtle aspects of her relationship with her mother (Mandy Walsh), the legendary former CCPD officer and instructor. Kim Boler, in her powerful portrayal of Erica, embodies a dark and dangerously suffering archetype of evil that invokes the worst we all fear. The cast as a whole is so successful in their relentless anger and violence that they can overwhelm the message of the play. Scott OKen (playwright and artistic director for the Factory Theater since 2007) and Jill Oliver (director, in her first full-length production for the Factory) have created a play that is, to be sure, in line with the Factory’s premise: ‘original, bold, and full-tilt.’ Though not perfect, its flaws could, perhaps, be taken as openings to a potentially illuminating point of view.

Fight City lives up to its name and is an innovative and fiercely energetic production that gets high marks for staging, choreography, and fight design. The set design (Sarah Lewis) is darkly simple and uses the intimate setting and multiple stage entrance points to make the audience feel part of the action. Fight directors Maureen Yasko and Chris Smith and fight captains Mandy Walsh and Meredith Rae Lyons create excellent fight sequences that are executed with great pace and believability by the cast as a whole. Established nearly 25 years ago, The Factory Theater prides itself for “doing exactly the kind of theater they want to do” while providing a unique and entertaining experience. The fresh writing and staging of Fight City seems to fit the bill.

Rating: ★★★

Fight City continues through August 26th at Factory Theater, 1623 W. Howard (map), with performances Fridays and Saturdays 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $25, and are available by phone (866.811.4111) or online through (check for availability of half-price tickets). More info at time: 90 minutes, no intermission)

Harrison Weger and Megan Schemmel star as Weatherfoot and Price in Fight City, Factory Theater

Photos by Michael Courier 




Jennifer Betancourt (Barb Davies), Almanya Narula (Janet Avory), Mandy Walsh (Margaret Davies, Ration Worker), Harrison Weger (Weatherfoot), Ashley Yates (Argent, Civilian), Meredith Rae Lyons (White, Civilian), Jen Bosworth (Lt. Quaife, Ration Worker), Eric Frederickson (Verne, Steele), Kim Boler (Erica), Susan Wingerter (Valentine, Thug), Brittany Ellis (Chandler, Thug), Megan Schemmel (Price, Thug), Jae K. Renfrow (Leo), Linsey Falls (Terry), Grace Odumosu (Richards), Josh Zagoren (Relf), Kim Fukawa (u/s Barb, Janet), Elizabeth MacDougald (u/s Margaret, Valentine), Josh Greiveldinger (u/s Weatherfoot, Relf), Dan Krall (u/s Steele), Colin Milroy (u/s Verne, Terry, Leo), Josephine Longo (u/s Argent, White, Richards), Cory Griffith (u/s Chandler, Price, Thugs), Sara Robinson (u/s Erica, Lt. Quaife)

behind the scenes

Jill Oliver (director), Kevin Alves (asst. director), Manny Tamayo (production manager), Greg Caldwell (asst. production manager), Phil Claudnic (stage manager), Jermaine Edward Thomas (asst. stage manager), Ben Zeman (sound designer), Sarah Lewis (set designer), Amie Zimmerman (technical director), Albert Gogetem (props designer), Carla McDowell (costume designer), Maureen Yasko, Chris Smith (fight directors), Emma Deane (lighting designer), C.W. van Baale (master electrician), Jason Moody (graphic designer), Mandy Walsh, Meredith Rae Lyons (fight captains), Maggie Scrantom (consultant), Michael Courier (photos)


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Category: 2017 Reviews, Factory Theater, Johanna Dalton, New Work, World Premier

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