November 6, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 38  

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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Targets investigates harsh reality


Necessary Targets

Directed by: Mindy Blinkhorn
Starring: Julia Webb, Virginia Pratten, Sookie Mei, Lucy Williams, Lil Malinich, Claire Porter-Martin and Kristen Finley

By Ash Wittig
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
THESE CHICKS ARE TOUGH... DAMN TOUGH. The cast of Necessary Targets take on Bosnia in Eve Ensler's latest play.

Necessary Targets is the story of Bosnian refugee women who are slowly being mentally healed by two American psychiatrists who differ greatly in their tactics.

Written by Eve Ensler, the play takes place in a refugee camp for Bosnian women who have survived the onslaught of war in their home country. JS and Melissa are two psychiatrists from North America who have travelled far to help heal and learn from five Bosnian women driven from their homeland and for whom unspeakable horrors fill their thoughts and dreams.

JS and Melissa, played by Julia Webb and Sookie Mei, are constantly at odds with one another. Melissa is young, field-experienced and hungry for information to write about in her book; JS is older, comfortable in her private practice and has grown accustomed to North American comforts.

The five Bosnian women all differ greatly: Azra (Lucy Williams) only wishes to go back to her home so she can die; Jelena (Lil Malinich) sees drunken debauchery as her only method of escape; Nuna (Kristen Finley) is a young girl obsessed with America; Seada (Claire Porter-Martin) lives in a world of denial that leads to delusions and finally, Zlata (Virginia Pratten), once a doctor herself, proves to be the most difficult and yet most rewarding.

The most interesting relationship is the one between the two older women, JS the psychiatrist and Zlata the Bosnian doctor. In the group, they are strained towards each other, but find the other more easily approachable outside of therapy. They level with one another, even though they are from two opposite worlds and begin to realize they are not so different after all.

The cast is made up of seven women, but this is perfect because too many players would have detracted from the story. The acting is absolutely wonderful — to the point where you forget where you are and are suddenly jolted back into reality. However, the clinch is this is reality and the realization of this is steps away from devastating. The lives these once wealthy women now lead — sleeping in pigs’ beds — is more than enough to send you home with a deeper respect of our North American privileges.

The set design allows you to see all the actors at once; even if they are not in the scene, they are off in the background behind thin sheets, talking and going about their business as if no one were watching. There are only a few simple props with four wooden pieces of furniture moved around strategically in between scenes.

The story is quite refreshing once you get into it. There is no forced love story, no violence and in fact, no solid ending. The only thing lacking is the finish, which is a bit disappointing since in its entirety the play is quite enthralling. The audience is left hanging, not quite sure what really happens to any of the characters it has grown to actually care about. The issues that do get resolved seem to take little time, but this can easily be chalked up to time constraints as the play is one hour and 15 minutes in length.

Necessary Targets simultaneously shows the pure strength and raw tenderness of women. They remain strong for one another while lending their shoulders to cry upon. Ensler’s play provides a brief glimpse into the reality we hardly get a chance to experience — and one which many choose to ignore.

 

 

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