At the Arclight Theater through Nov. 18.
A one-woman show with more than half a dozen characters, two story plots, a sock puppet acting as a tree frog, politics, activism and healthy dose of celebrity names—sound confusing? This is The Boycott, written and performed by Kathryn Blume and playing at the Arclight Theater.
The focus of the performance is global warming and Blume pours her heart out explaining how important this issue is to her, and how important it should be for you. So important that Blume inserts an envelope with her address and donation forms into the program. This is not surprising considering Blume co-founded The Lysistrata Project, a worldwide performance movement that hosed 1,029 readings of Aristophanes’ play as a way to protest the Iraq war. The story within the story of Blume’s personal involvement with activism loosely follows the Lysistrata, the Greek drama in which a town’s women boycott the men’s going to war by refusing to have sex with them.
Blume conveys her purpose well and, for the most part, homorously. From solar powered dildos, a flying Gandhi puppet and lots of accents, her dry humor eases the seriousness of the subject. In The Boycott, Blume’s main character Lyssa, acting as the first lady on the United States, becomes enlightened about the threat of global warming after being kidnapped after giving a superficial speech about it. Then, with her daughter, she has a revelation while drunk on the fabled “Lincoln’s absinthe” in the secret wine cellar of the White House. A diseased tree frog, named Ignacia after the Princess Bride, visits her and guides her way to global warming activism.
Next, Lyssa finds a way to coerce her husband’s lover to help her start the Gaia Project, which called for a worldwide boycott of sex with the slogan, “A sex strike is one protest they can’t ignore!” At this point the storyline begins to stretch uncomfortably—and not because of the subject matter. Blume reiterates the issues and her personal feelings behind global warming to a point where the audience screams for a story line. Eventually she does,, but the good points are lost in a pair of long, emotional, and overly dramatized endings.
If a long-winded play about global warming appeals to you, The Boycott is well worth the trek. Blume is a wonderful actress and storyteller and has good ideas on stage, but she loses her focus – and the attention of her audience – at the end. Also, there is only so much one can take of a talking frog puppet.
The Boycott ran through November 18 at the Arclight Theater, 152 West 71st Street between Broadway and Columbus. Visit www.theboycottplay.com.