The Refugee Girls Revue
Apollo Studio Theatre (see Fringe & storefront) Written and directed by Jena Friedman. With ensemble cast.
At the end of this misconceived, amateurish musical satire, the bright-eyed cast of Refugee sings, “We’ll stop being so preachy, because you know what we mean.”
The sentiment comes just about an hour too late. This original musical parody is nothing but preaching, lightly besprinkled with misfired jokes, forgettable song fragments and bold statements of the obvious. Perhaps Friedman’s heart is in the right place; she seems concerned about all the hot-button topics: the world’s refugees, global warming, the U.S. government’s failure to keep peace and stability either at home or abroad, and (I guess) rampant American consumerism. But it’s not clear what she intends her Refugee Dolls, a half-cocked parody of American Girl dolls, to convey. If they’re meant to skewer the American Girl model for commodifying international strife, then why complain that it’s too easy to forget the world’s suffering millions? Wouldn’t dolls that tell the story of the less fortunate be a good idea?
The attempts at comedy are equally flat-footed, with most ranging from the unending hilarity of calling another girl “bitch” to none-too-subtle political jabs (Our government is incompetent! [Pause for laugh]). As a director, Friedman’s work is just as slipshod. Her staging achieves a level of polish usually reserved for a summer camp talent show. If that amateurish quality is intentional, it still needs a certain degree of sophistication, something this cast and crew have failed to muster.—Kay Daly