During World War II, it wasn’t only the men who answered the call of their country. All over North America, women left their kitchens, shedding the restraints of home maker and house wife, to take up the hammer and torque to work in the factories (Rosie the Riveter), building the equipment that was put to such deadly use, hoping with the turn of each screw, the launch of each plane, that their loved ones were one step closer to victory and returning home.
But that would lead to a whole new world of change.
Anyone who has chatted with Sue and I, knows my love of World War II history, stories from the ETO, PTO and the home front endlessly fascinate me, illustrating the best and worst of what we can be, and how we, as one, can stand against a threat, each of us doing our part.
Our beloved show, Bomb Girls, brought more of these moments into our living room, and opened up a corner of history I was sorry to admit I didn’t know enough about.
This afternoon, I got another look at a wonderfully crafted tale about those times (and I cannot help but urge Bomb Girls fans to follow and support this show), in a showcase presentation of Andy Lyberopoulos’ State of Women, directed by Tatum Lee at the Lower Ossington Theatre.
Running over two hours in length, the play, adapted from an original screenplay by Lyberopoulos, finds our epic cast of characters approaching V-E Day, and the return of the men from the frontlines of the European Theatre of Operations.
At the center of the story are two characters, Eve Landing, played by the stunning Alyssa Owsiany (I love her husky, occasionally cracking voice) who embodies the ex-homemaker who has come to work in the plane factories of San Francisco, while trying to figure out how to tell her husband, Nick (Robert Notman), how much she has changed.
The other is Danny Finckle, played my Mark Nuttall, who walks a fine line between comedy, and by story’s end, redemptive pathos, a young photojournalist trying to make a name for himself. He gets a mission from Fair Lady magazine, to find a new cover girl, a real woman, a working woman, a woman who personifies the changes in the nation, and the call to fight.
Eve is surrounded by a wonderful collection of women, all from different walks of life, all doing their part, there’s firecracker, Pepper (Karen Scobie), the very heart of the production, bombshell, Julie (Olivia Clarke) and driven, compassionate Jean (Adrianna Prosser). All four of these characters were inspired by real women.
If Pepper is the heart, then the other three are the brain (Jean), the emotions (Julie), to the soul (Eve). When these four or any combination aren’t on stage, you feel it. There’s a wonderful connection between these four performers, and more than once they managed to wring a misty eye from me.
When Danny finds Eve, he believes he’s found the new face of Fair Lady. She and her team have done some amazing work, and represent a change in the women of America, and by extension all Allied countries, but when Nick returns and wants nothing more than for the two of them to return to Oregon together, she is forced to make a choice between her heart, and her desire to be something more now that she can be.
What follows is an emotional journey as we see our foursome together, dealing with the pain of those they are missing, the desire to be needed, and the tribulations of their own friendship.
Danny goes on his own journey, dominating a large portion of the second act, that brings into question journalistic morality and ethics, always something I’m willing to talk about.
And as the war ends, and the men have come home, not all of the changes that took place while they were away are appreciated.
There are two iconic sequences in the play, both of which take place on the factory’s rooftop, the first involves our foursome and illustrates their differences; differences that are shared by people all over, and yet, you couldn’t imagine the four of them apart, because together, they work, they gel, they show our shared humanity, and our capacity for friendship, compassion and more. The second sequence darkly mirrors that, showing how we love to tear those things down as well.
Currently only available as a Showcase, with only four shows, over 3 days, the play is completely sold out, but for those across North America who took stories of factory girls, and the home front into their heart, whether through relatives who did it, the beloved program, Bomb Girls, or a simple desire to know more, this is one to make sure you are following. You can find them on Facebook and Twitter (@Tandument) to get news of when the next production is getting underway.
There are so many standout moments and performances that should be mentioned, John Marcucci’s Frank is a gem, and provides some great laughs, Jaime Polatynski owns her character Karen Vice moving with a commanding presence, Trevor Ketcheson as Oscar… you can’t help but feel for his character despite his final choices and actions.
A highly enjoyable performance, and well-deserving of the standing ovation it was given, it also has a fantastic playlist!
Follow this one, support it, and if opportunity presents itself, see it.