Will a butch lesbian gardener and four New Jersey housewives save us from the oncoming climate apocalypse?
The Greek god Dionysus—god of wine, parties, the arts, ecstasy and vegetation—has been living among us for centuries as a lesbian permaculture artist and taking part in all of the aforementioned activities. Yet, manmade climate change threatens not just the vegetation and the vineyards but soon there will be no humans to worship Dionysus. It’s that last part that is really the problem.
…an invaluable addition to what has been a saliently prescient season from IronCrow Theatre. It is fun, thought-provoking, and continues to reveal truths about our society through the intimacy of queer relationships.
Dionysus (Sabriaya Shipley) devises a plan to recruit four women to be her acolytes by offering her gardening services. After she seduces them they will save the world by ripping up one environmentally-deadly, suburban lawnscape at a time. Well, that’s the plan. The four housewives, a group of close friends who call themselves “girls,” are rather reluctant. There’s the typical WASP, Carol (Melinda Nanovsky), the sad divorcee, Beth (Hana Clarice),the career woman, Renee (Kayla Leacock), and the Jersey-shore wife, Pam (Melanie Kurstin). Their friendship was sealed during the traumatic events of Hurricane Sandy and they can’t stop talking about the way their lives have been changed by “the storm.”
Madeline George’s “Hurricane Diane” is trying to make a comedy out of climate change and flip the script of the typical deus ex machina. After all, Diane is the god but she can’t save us. The humans have to do that. The actual Hurricane Diane was a 1955 category two storm that was the first in the country to exceed one billion dollars in damages. The tension between nature and financial destruction is a theme recurrent throughout. At one point, Pam expresses her anxiety over rebuilding after the storm and how she’s afraid to do it again. Diane asks why she would rebuild if she knows the same thing will happen again.
The dialogue is clever and you’re sure to have a few belly-aching laughs. That said, this one promised to come in like a hurricane but felt a bit like a tropical depression.
The acting wasn’t as strong across the board as I’ve come to expect from Iron Crow, with some exceptions. While I get that the girls are archetypes, they came across more as stereotypes and, at times, felt cartoonish. Shipley is funny, charming, and sexy as Diane (Read our Quick 5 interview here). By far the strongest performance comes from Hana Clarice as Beth in what is, sadly, the smallest role. Clarice is versatile and stunning in her control of her craft.
Rowan Suder’s set is a slate gray kitchen, similar to the kind in every housing “flip” done in the last five years, that serves up “live, laugh, love” realness that is just so wonderfully boring. It’s a perfect suburban hellscape. The sound design by Jane Schwartz also deserves an honorable mention.
Overall, under Natka Bianchini’s direction, “Hurricane Diane” is largely successful and an invaluable addition to what has been a saliently prescient season from Iron Crow Theatre. Its fun, thought-provoking, and continues to reveal truths about our society through the intimacy of queer relationships. It’s a tricky play that a lot of companies wouldn’t have the guts to attempt. If you’re looking to process our climate crisis with a bit of art, this one might be for you.
Running Time: Approximately 100 minutes with no intermission.
Advisory: Ages 16+. Contains adult content and sexually suggestive material.
“Hurricane Diane” runs through February 5, 2023, presented by Iron Crow Theatre at the Baltimore Theater Project, 45 West Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201. For more information and tickets, go online. For more information about Baltimore Theater Project, click here. Face masks are required all times for all patrons, visitors, and staff regardless of vaccination status in all indoor spaces in the building. Masks may be briefly removed when actively eating or drinking.