Poignant, powerful, ugly, great theater, strength, fear and courage. All of that in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, now turned for the first time into a play whose world premiere is at Cincy Shakes this minute. With Corinne Mohlenhoff in this one woman show – though I swear I thought there were other people on stage several times. Corinne made them so real. The Commander, Nick, Serena Joy, Of Glenn. And directed by her husband, Brian Isaac Phillips.
My friend Carol, who has read Handmaid several times, says the words are straight from the book – there are just a lot fewer of them. Joe Stollenwerk’s adaptation is amazing, singular, focused.
This was a book I have steadfastly refused to read. I knew spending a week with those ugly images would be more than I could bear. But at the Shakes, a theater I know, with folk I know handing out the programs, and among friends, I felt like I could handle it. And so it became.
It was and is an ugly story. But it is by no means an impossible story, particularly given the discussion beforehand of bills just introduced into the Ohio legislature this session, designed to make sure women live up to their breeding capabilities, and have little choice in the matter. The world of The Handmaid’s Tale is a story of the hatred of women, and there are not as many steps from here to there as there used to be.
Let’s hope that MayDay got Of Fred where she needed to go.