Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine
By Lynn Nottage
Directed by Roberta Emerson
Starring Janice Deveaux
UCF Black Box Theater, Orlando, Florida
Reviewed by Carl F. Gauze
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Undine (Deveaux) runs a hot publicity boutique in swinging New York, until one day she doesn’t. Her boyfriend and accountant (Joshua Houvouras) gets her knocked up and steals all her money, thus destroying her social status, her self-built company, and her finances. She’s forced to move back and live with her déclassé parents (Timothy Jones II and Maya Senecharles) in an iffy part of town, and they aren’t thrilled to see her. After all, when she was on top of the world, Mommy and Daddy were NOT part of that world. One day she’s out buying crack cocaine for her grandmother, gets busted, and after a long series of small gains and big setbacks, she meets a guy (Jordan Perez) in a rehab session. They hook up, Undine returns to society, and if it’s not for happily ever after, its at least a roof and some companionship.
This rollicking comedy uses an ensemble cast, a table, and 4 chairs to build out Undine’s journey. Multiple scene changes so often let the air out of a show, but here the frenetic furniture dancing builds the pacing and comedic effect. The show’s highlight comes with Undine’s bumbled attempt to buy drugs just as the dealer is getting busted. At some point, the philandering accountant returns hoping to reunite. But Undine has the luxury to blow him off, even if the money is gone.
Director Emerson did a bang-up job of keeping up the pace and drawing laughs out of actors moving chairs around. There’s a certain air of city mouse/country mouse in the show, and much as we love to see the mighty fall, Undine generally remains likable even when she’s at her bitchiest. Deep down she’s just a scared kid working to get out of the ghetto, and you can’t fault her for that. It’s fun for the whole family, and if you’re not a fashionista, you might want to leaf though a copy of Vogue at the grocery store, just to help you get all the gags.