Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Early Girl

Downstairs Lady Theatre presents The Early Girl written by Caroline Kava. Directed by Vicki Wicks, the play focuses on Lily, (Kelly Solberg), who plans to work at the brothel just a month in order to secure a solid financial foundation for her daughter, Dolly. She enters the brothel insecure and shy but with ambitions to make plenty of money. Jewel Box House Madam Lana (Dianna Bennett) believes in Lilly and encourages her, believing she will break records her first year in the house. Lana was once a working girl herself but now she runs her own establishment and she has only a few rules, no cell phones, only leave the house once a month for a "Doctor Day" and no violence.

This play doesn't sensationalize the sex industry, instead it delved into these women's hopes dreams and lost aspirations. The setting is the waiting area between Johns. The women pass the time reading and chatting. The brothel setting is surprisingly domestic, a quiet suburban living room. The rehearsal I attended was in a Winter Garden home adding to the surreal domesticity.

Pam Schwartz came along with me to chaperone. I felt like Toulouse Lautrec sketching brothel life. While I struggled with the sketch, I heard her laughing at the off hand exchanges between the women on stage. The play is both comic and tragic. Lilly is mentored and advised by the more established girls. Jean (Carol Jacqueline Palumbo) who is a smart woman who once thought she was only going to earn some extra money and get out, but now she feels close to hitting rock bottom and Pat (Kat Kemmet) who uses her earnings to buy frivolous personal items, Laurel (April Tubbs) is hardened and keeps to herself reading but she sends the money back to her child in Spokane. George (Dina Najjar) has a regular customer named Eric who she feels may one day ask her to marry him. Each woman has their personal reasons for what they do and each has a heart of gold.

The Early Girls ambitions get out of hand when she takes Eric, George's regular to bed and kisses him which is in itself an infraction. George goes ballistic and a no hold barred cat fight ensues. Of course violence is against the house rules, and the girls have to stick together to keep from being broken apart. Though there are differences, they care about each other. As an outsider looking in, we get to care about each woman in turn as well. Though in an industry that might seem dis-empowering, these women are empowered.

The show is now at Tampa Fringe. 
HCC Studio Theatre
1411 E 11th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
The remaining show dates are,
Thurs May 10 at 9pm,
Sat May 12 at 3pm
Tickets are $14.50

If you don't want to make the drive to Tampa, the show is coming to Breakthrough Theater 419 W Fairbanks Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789. This would be a great way to extend your Orlando International Fringe experience.
June 1-2 at 8pm
June 3 at 3pm and 8pm
Tickets are $12 General Admission
$10 for Breakthrough Alumni

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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