Opening Nights: Reservoir Dolls

"Watch out for the blood on your way out!" you're warned after seeing Erika Anne Soerensen's Reservoir Dolls. An estrogen-powered retelling of Quentin Tarantino's 1992 debut, it's still the perfect heist gone wayyyyy wrong, presented by a smart package of strong female leads. (The captive cop is still played by a guy.) Theater Schmeater company member Soerensen keeps everything you loved about the original screenplay intact: the iconic black suits, the phallic, pseudophilosophical debate about the meaning of '80s Madonna songs, severed ears, and constant F-bombs and C-bombs. It's borrowed, but tight; Soerensen ties up the production in a beautifully gruesome pink package. True to Tarantino's casting, director J.D. Lloyd has filled the show with physically diverse actresses—like Bridesmaids gone truly bad. It's a credit to this powerful ensemble that, midway through the first act, they inhabit their characters so fully as to become genderless. It's not until they roll around on the floor, beating one another senseless in puddled stage blood, you remember, hee-hee, these are ladies who bleed. Lisa Viertel brings diabolical charm to Michael Madsen's role of Mr. (now Ms.) Blonde. Megan Ahiers believably becomes a female Chris Penn (here Nice Gal Edie); and Christine White's gravely delivery does justice to the principled Mr. White of Harvey Keitel. (Soerensen plays Steve Buscemi's role as jumpy waitress-stiffer Ms. Pink.) In an intimate space that admits only 49 patrons, there is little room for disbelief or error, yet these Dolls hold the audience rapt for the entire 90-minute show (which includes a short intermission). Additional kudos must be given to voice actress Annette Toutonghi as the K-Billy "Super Sounds of the '70s" DJ. She embellishes Steven Wright's signature monotone with a raspy, baby-girl come-on. The famous doomed cop/ear-slicing scene will have you visibly wincing, thanks to Julia Griffin's realistic special-effects work. Subtitled "A Parody," performed with unbridled, gory vagcentric energy, Reservoir Dolls could be the world's most entertaining Tampax ad.

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