Pardon My Invasion
Through Nov. 19, $15-$20, Plays & Players Theatre, 1714 Delancey Place, Philadelphia
by Mark Cofta, City Paper
Smart and silly, Joy Cutler’s Pardon My Invasion receives an impeccable première by director Cara Blouin in Plays & Players’ 50-seat studio. Emily Gibson plays Penny, announcing, “There’s a man inside me.” Soon soldier Pvt. Mac takes over, requiring Gibson to play him trapped in a teen girl’s body, accomplished brilliantly. Pulp fiction writer mom Jennifer Summerfield copes not only with Penny’s boyfriend (Julian Cloud) and a curious cop (Theresa Leahy), but imaginary characters from her fiction and CONT’D AT CITYPAPER>>
Review: Pardon My Invasion
by Wendy Rosenfield, Philadelphia Inquirer
So here’s a real surprise: On the third floor of Plays and Players Theatre, there’s a world premiere by an under-the-radar local playwright — Joy Cutler — filled with amateur actors, directed by a relative newcomer. All outward signs indicate a hot mess; instead, it’s a blast.
Cutler’s oddball black comedy, Pardon My Invasion, features an AWOL Iraq war soldier hiding, Exorcist-style, inside the body of Penny, a 13-year-old American girl whose single mother Rita (Jennifer Summerfield) writes pulpy detective novels for a living. And that synopsis only covers the first few scenes.
Last season, director Cara Blouin created Dan Rottenberg Is Thinking About R@ping You, a sharp comedic, feminist response to the Broad Street Review editor’s article blaming CBS News reporter Lara Logan for her own sexual assault. Blouin’s the right woman for this job too, blowing up Cutler’s surreal take on sexual politics into Roy Lichtenstein territory with big, bright cartoons whose primary-colored confidence threatens to either saturate the mere mortals around them or smother them.
The Army, particularly tough-as-nails moustachioed Sarge (Joe O’Brien, who literally somersaults onto the stage and maintains that momentum throughout), teaches men to kill or be killed; Rita’s novels show women, particularly her main moll Honey Babe (an outrageously busty, lusty Angela Smith), as red-dressed, red-lipsticked carnal dynamos.
Meanwhile, Rita and Penny — along with that body snatcher, Pvt. Mack Jack (Emily Gibson, both vulnerable and hilarious in each role) — exist much further down the charisma spectrum, sorting through their own CONT’D AT PHILLY.COM>>
If you were a private in the army and went AWOL in Iraq, where would you hide? In the body of a teenage girl, of course.
Plays & Players is presenting the world premiere of Joy Cutler’s Pardon My Invasion, an adult dark comedy about Private Malcolm Jack and his residency in 13-year-old Penny’s body. Penny’s mother tries to lure Jack out, and what follows is nothing but pure, rowdy fun.
Naturally, casting Penny/Private Jack was no easy feat. “This city [has] an amazing abundance of quality young female performers — but to find one that can be a 13-year-old girl going through puberty and a [twentysomething] male full of the bravado and the pain necessary to represent a soldier, well, it was no easy task,” says artistic director Daniel Student. “Emily Gibson has both the natural instinct to take on both of these characters.”
Plays & Players has been heralded in Philadelphia Magazine’s Best in Philly issue twice in a row, and this is the fourth year in a row the theater is featuring the world premiere of a local playwright. “It feels that each year we are able to stretch our CONT’D AT CITY PAPER>>