There’s nothing quite like female rage.
Atlantic Acting School C5’s production of Big Love by Charles Mee, directed by up-and-comer Estefanía Fadul includes nothing short of runaway brides with fear in their hearts and blood on their hands. Based on Aeschylus’ The Suppliants, fifty brides who are being forced to marry their fifty cousins flee to a manor in Italy still wearing their wedding dresses. The fifty sisters are represented by three sisters: Lydia (Ana Guzman Quintero), Olympia (Cristina Carrillo), and Thyona (Felicia Santiago). The sisters are armed only with their longing for love and rage at having no choice in who they marry. They sing “You Don’t Own Me” sitting in a bathtub, unpacking their wedding presents, and waiting for what their fate will be. The de facto patriarch of the manor, Piero (Michael Martinez), and his cross-dressing nephew Giuliano (James Burgin), give the women temporary sanctuary alongside the wise matriarch Bella (Natalie Neckyfarow). Lovesick Olympia (Carrillo), rage-fueled Thyona (Santiago), and wavering Lydia (Quintero) are then assaulted by a helicopter filled with the fifty cousins. The fifty cousins are represented by leader and misogynist Constantine (Jake Roberts), hopeful Nikos (Cameron Bell) and a man of few words Oed (Luke Condzal). All three men, armed with different tactics, demand the bride that is owed to them.
The six brides and grooms demonstrate extreme athleticism as they throw themselves on the ground, run around, and deliver huge monologues over the course of nearly two hours. With each bride and groom having their own relationships with one another, the couple that stands out to audiences is Lydia and Nikos, who share a tender moment that ultimately seals their fate as a couple. Afterward, Piero reveals that the women must uphold their contract with the grooms and marry them the next day. The lovely couple Leo (Jesse Aftel) and Eleanor (Amanda Shi) attempt to show the brides the beauty of marriage and love. This only helps the brides set in stone the punishment for their soon to be husbands on their bloody, bloody wedding day.
This beautiful rage and blood filled piece’s set design features a ceiling with hanging flowers, an elegant white bathtub and the sea painted in the background. The colorful yet minimalistic style lends a hand to the cast in this dramatic comedy to set the stage for a frank examination of gender politics, love, and domestic violence.