If you will be in Cincinnati, you might want to see this play. Disclaimer–Andrew J. Hungerford is my nephew.
Fury and Focus Fuel Know’s “Girl in the Red Corner”
Review by Liz Eichler
Know Theatre’s ready to rumble!
With the theme “The Fight,” Know Theatre of Cincinnati appropriately opens their 22nd season with “Girl in the Red Corner.” Stephen Spotswood’s drama is the story of a gal fighting her demons, in and out of the octagon.
Tess Talbot shines as Halo, the recently divorced woman, now living with a mom who drinks too much, who regrets never going to college or applying herself in high school. Going from dead-end job to job, she finally gets up the courage to walk into a gym that trains MMA fighters. Because she needs to do it.
Halo is in the “finding your power” stage of her life. She’s not letting people take it from her, and like most women, it’s a struggle. It becomes her mantra as she trains, punctuating each hit as people tell her who to be and what to think.
Her trainer is Gina, arrestingly played by Abigail Esmena Foehle. Her intensity and focus make her a standout and, coupled with her athleticism, you will 100% believe she is a real MMA fighter.
Jennifer Joplin plays multiple roles that demonstrate her amazing range, from an enthusiastic telemarketing trainer, to an MMA competitor, and to Halo’s mom, who can’t quite figure out her cell phone. Mindy Heithaus is Halo’s sister Brinn, and Adam Tran plays Halo’s brother-in-law and the owner of the gym. Together they fight about raising a daughter, whose presence is felt through loud music.
While you may be familiar with similar stories on screen, it is amazing to see the moves up close in a theatre. These gals trained! K Jenny Jones is the Fight Director and the actors delivered. The set and lights (Andrew J. Hungerford) are a convincing padded octagon with arena lighting. Great sound from Doug Borntrager punctuating monologues and more. Costumes (Noelle Wedig-Johnson) are gym attire and authentic gear. Jeremy Pender is their MMA advisor, keeping them real. Director Tamara Winters brings it all together.
The themes are strong. Halo shouts about being sexually harassed on the phone at her telemarketing job, and her brother-in- law, who held the same job, doesn’t believe her. Because it never happened to him, it must not have happened. More fuel behind Halo’s punches.
This play also highlights the difficult position of an aunt. A niece wants to connect with you, but mom wants to control that relationship. So do you keep connecting and being real with the teenager? If you do, that puts you in bad with your sister. If you don’t, you lose trust with your niece. More fuel for Halo’s kicks.
While the play may feel overwritten at times and underwritten at others, the show is worth seeing in an apparent city-wide season of women. Bring your significant other. Lure him/her in with the sports theme—s/he may start to get the other stuff.
“Girl in the Red Corner” runs through August 17. Tickets are available at 513-300-KNOW.