The Second City’s ‘She The People: The Resistance Continues’ levels the playing field with humor

The good news? The Second City’s sharp-witted She The People: The Resistance Continues is back at Woolly Mammoth for another rollicking production of top-notch sketches and witty songs. The bad news? America’s brew of sexism and misogyny still runneths over, giving the show’s writers/performers plenty of persistent, misbegotten attitudes to skewer.  Thank goodness for this talented troop to help us navigate our way through a thicket of body-shaming rituals and lurid examples of inequality. Their well-timed humor is a terrific antidote to our often archaic societal norms.

Kazi Jones, Katie Caussin, Carisa Barreca, Jo Scott, Alex Bellisle, and Sayjal Joshi in ‘She the People: The Resistance Continues.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

A uniformly excellent cast, many of them veterans of previous She the People productions, deliver at a fast and furious pace. Last year’s performers Carisa Barreca, Alex Bellisle, Katie Caussin and Kazi Jones are joined by Sayjal Joshi and newcomer Jo Scott, all under the astute direction of Carly Heffernan.  

Among the most hilarious sketches are a group of cheerleaders trying to combine coquettish moves with feminist chants, to the consternation of their white patriarchal coach. The game show “Ovary Reactions” takes aim at myths concerning hysteria. A girls’ night out at a Chippendale’s performance sweeps us into the orgasmic stratosphere. A video paean to the 17th-century Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens, known for his images of ample nude women, reminds us that in one time in history, “Rubenesque” was a descriptor for beauty rather than obesity. As one might expect, pointed references to the current President are woven into the script here and there. Frankly, who could resist? 

While the show serves up a full-throated defense of women’s strength, power, and unabashed sexuality, it also launches some wry send-ups of ‘the fair sex’ as well. Watch a trio of divas donning scarves and proclaiming themselves goddesses. This very funny scene invites shout-outs from the audience, allowing the cast to demonstrate its ample improv chops.   

To its credit, She the People ranges beyond strictly feminist topics. Channeling Gilda Radner during an exceptional improv skit, “Debunked,”  Jo Scott takes on conspiracy theories run amok. Carisa Barreca confronts loopy anti-vaxxers and other sketches shine a comedic light on Evangelicals and ethnic typecasting. Make no mistake, however. Beneath all the mirth lies a bedrock of critical thought. Every now and then, skits end on a serious note, forcing us to ponder sober realities.

Alex Bellisle, Sayjal Joshi, and Carisa Barreca in ‘She the People: The Resistance Continues.’ Photo by Teresa Castracane.

Set Designer Meghan Raham and Lighting & Projections Designer Sarah Tundermann provide a sharp, snappy and highly effective series of video projections on tilted, neon-framed screens throughout the show. Sound Designer Sarah O’Halloran might consider toning down the volume to allow the audience to take in the quick-paced script with greater ease.    

Related to the sound quality is one quick bit of advice: sit as close as you can to the stage.  The audibility of the actors’ voices drops sharply toward the back of the house, and you really don’t want to miss a single word of what this talented sextet has to say about women and the world today.

Running time: Two hours with one 15-minute intermission

She The People by The Second City plays through January 5, 2020, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, 641 D St. NW, Washington, DC. To purchase tickets, call 202-393-3939 or go online. 


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