BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW
Among my most vivid memories in more than 30 years of reviewing the New York theater scene is watching Eve Ensler soar through her soon-to be-celebrated “Vagina Monologues” as a solo show in a 60-seat SoHo space. Ever since that intense and enlightening experience, I have been a big fan of Ensler’s positive, forthright points of social view, if not always of the various works she has created.
So it is with Ensler’s latest piece, “Emotional Creature,” which opened in its New York premiere at the Pershing Square Signature Center complex on Monday.
The complexities of being a teenaged girl in this confusing day and world constitute Ensler’s topic, which is brightly rendered by six young actors who give voice to an international array of trends, thoughts and conditions.
Expect to hear them talk frankly about self-image stresses, sexuality and boys (and girls), peer pressure, pregnancy, exploited sex slaves in Bulgaria, teens trying to escape genital mutilation in Africa, and so forth; aspects of modern female adolescence viewed from its lightest to darkest angles.
These experiences and thoughts are expressed through an 80-minute series of monologues (of course), concerted sections such as a snappy internet chat around the globe about body issues (“Skinny is the same as pretty”), upbeat song, dance and rap breaks, poetic flights and other dramatic means. A fictional work drawn from Ensler’s recent book, “Emotional Creature” conjures up contrasting teen voices and concludes with an affirmation of the validity of their intense feelings.
Director Jo Bonney’s dynamic staging fluently mixes rhythmic choreography by Luam and waves of colorful projected images designed by Shawn Sagady to enhance the multiple narratives. The setting, designed by Myung Hee Cho, presents pretty, pink-accented surroundings cunningly built upon layers of adolescent souvenirs, books, toys, keepsakes and wildflowers.