Review: 'Reservoir Dolls' is an unconvincing take on Tarantino

Correspondent

If you’re a fan of Quentin Tarantino movies, you’ve likely seen his 1992 debut feature film “Reservoir Dogs.”

That’s the one in which six guys using colorful aliases — specifically, Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Blonde, Mr. Pink, Mr. Brown and Mr. Blue — try to pull off a diamond heist, only to have the job end in massively bloody failure.

In 2009, playwright Erika Soerensen adapted Tarantino’s screenplay for the stage, with a key twist: The violent “dogs” became “dolls.” In other words, the ruthless criminals from the movie are now played by women, with the single male in the cast a victim of a particularly sociopathic gal’s torture.

At the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, Outre Theatre Company has just opened the East Coast premiere of “Reservoir Dolls.” The play is not, as some may guess, a parody of Tarantino’s movie. It’s a straightforward, gender-flipped stage version, with all the violence and bloodiness that entails.

Directed by Shannon Ouellette, the production features a strong cast that looks ready to rumble in costume designer Christina Battaglia’s Tarantino-style black suits, crisp white shirts and black skinny ties. And on Skye Whitcomb’s deliberately messy warehouse set, rumble they do.

Rita Joe plays criminal mastermind Jo Cabot, a control freak who comes up with the idea of assembling a team of six criminals who don’t know one another to pull off the robbery. Jo’s violence-loving daughter, Nice Gal Edie (Daryl Patrice), stirs up trouble with the just-out-of-prison Ms. Blonde (Samantha Kaufman), whose penchant for torture will prove most unfortunate for a captured cop (Joey de la Rua).

The other members of the heist team are Ms. White (Elizabeth Price), whose compassion becomes dangerous; Ms. Pink (Nicole Dikun), always spoiling for a fight; Ms. Orange (Bridget Parente), a shooting victim with a secret; and Ms. Brown (Krystal Millie Valdes) and Ms. Blue (Connie Pezet), neither of whom lasts long.

With lighting by Guy Haubrich, oldies-packed sound design by Todd Silver and convincing fight choreography by Kaufman, “Reservoir Dolls” is among Outre’s better executed productions in its new home (except for the odd placement of a video introducing the actors and their characters after the play is already underway).

Many of the expressive younger theatergoers in the audience seem to dig watching the women graphically deconstruct Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” call one another vulgar names and beat (or shoot) one another.

If “Reservoir Dolls” were a parody, maybe I’d dig it, too. But despite the best efforts of Ouellette and the performers, the story doesn’t believably translate. Yes, there are female thugs and sociopaths. And yes, women are the equal of men. But putting a woman in a suit and having her slaughter another woman in a suit isn’t an empowering move. These “Dolls” are anything but dull, but neither are they credible.

“Reservoir Dolls” is running through Feb. 18 at the Pompano Beach Cultural Center, 50 W. Atlantic Blvd. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $39 ($19 students and industry tickets). To order, call 954-545-7800 or go to CCPompano.org or OutreTheatreCompany.com.

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