The Female of the Species

Ten years ago, a teenage student held groundbreaking feminist author Germaine Greer (The Female Eunuch) hostage in her English country home. Playwright Joanna Murray-Smith took note and debuted The Female of the Species, a farcical comment on the failures of the women’s movement, in London eight years later. The offstage barbs soon eclipsed the script’s one-liners. Greer called fellow Aussie Murray-Smith “an insane reactionary.” Murray-Smith, the mother of two, proclaimed Greer’s childlessness to be an intellectual liability and even denied Greer was the primary inspiration for the play’s Margot Mason—a groundbreaking feminist author (The Cerebral Vagina) who’s held hostage by a former student. Critics, meanwhile, agreed mainly on one point: The monstrous Margot, cartoonish or no, provides an undeniable star turn in the proper hands. Dame Eileen Atkins held London in thrall; Annette Bening recently tore into the role in L.A. Seattleites will now get to better appreciate Suzy Hunt, whose faultless instincts and formidable comic oomph as a character actress have stolen many scenes. The play may offend, but Hunt should be a hoot. STEVE WIECKING [See Margaret Friedman's review.]

June 18-20, 8 p.m.; Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: June 18. Continues through July 18, 2010

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