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Theater Thu Oct 11 2012

Rivendell Theatre Ensemble Presents WRENS

wrens.jpg

(From Left to Right) Amanda Powell, Meg Warner, Mary Cross, Rebecca Spence, Ashley Neal. Photo by Michael Brosilow.

The "a girl in trouble" plotline should make WRENS a "period piece;" the setting is the eve of the Allies victory in World War II. WRENS is the acronym for Women's Royal Naval Service, whereby young women and girls on the cusp of womanhood from all over the British Commonwealth joined up to take up mundane support tasks normally performed by those enlisted young men needing to go fight at the front lines.

Seven young women share a barrack, by day going off to perform their military duties, by evening returning "home" to make uncomfortable small talk and read correspondence from family and betrothed. Some are more open-minded and worldly than others - wispy Dawn (Rebecca Spence), the patrician rich girl Cynthia (Jodi Kingsley) housewife Jenny (Ashley Neal), spry and spunky Scottish orphan Meg (Amanda Powell), with Gwyneth (Mary Cross), liberal writer Doris (Meg Warner) and worldly and keeps-to-herself Chelsea (Katrina Kuntz) rounding out their crowded temporary domicile.

Dawn becomes pregnant after her auto shop supervisor rapes her. She keeps it as quiet as she can, but her unusual sullenness gives way, and she finally confides in Gwyneth, who tells Dawn that unless she can get her steady boyfriend to marry her as quickly as possible, then Dawn will have to inform the military superiors - and no matter that she was raped, Dawn will bare the full burden and punishment for her boss's crime.

The young women find themselves challenged by what to do of Dawn's condition? Do they tell her on her? They risk their own military careers and reputations if it's found out they "hid" Dawn's situation? What do they owe this girl?

Cynthia wants to return home to find her fiancé taking a job in her father's bank and giving up his tentative plan to become a career naval officer; Jenny struggles with the fact that she can never return to the way things were in her marriage before the war; Meg wants to be Dawn's friend and stand beside her no matter her ills, even if Dawn is not feeling particularly friendly at the moment; and Chelsea withholds her opinion on Dawn's "problem" until they can have a moment alone, when Chelsea offers Dawn a ride into a nearby town to take care of her problem - their problem.

Dawn takes the offer, but comes back from the abortionist alone. Dawn barely makes it back to the barrack, bringing fever and hemorrhaging with her, terrifying the women, and they use the cover of the Victory in Europe celebration to care for, and debate what to do if Dawn doesn't stop hemorrhaging.

Each woman has to take a good look at themselves, her post war life's expectations, and what her duties and responsibilities should be to another woman in times of stress and great trouble. WRENS is victorious in letting us see a horrible time for many, not so long ago, that's still with us. I mentioned earlier that WRENS should be a period piece, but read today's headlines on the continued battle over who controls any given woman's body, who gets defined if it's "really rape", and you should plant your seat in a seat at the Rivendell and find that the war, like most all wars, never stops, they just smolder until the next armies show up to fight the same battle.

WRENS plays through Saturday, October 13 at Rivendell's new performance venue, 5779 N. Ridge. Tickets can be purchased here.

 
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By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
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Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

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