San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nearly All-Female Play Beats Pool and Baseball

STEPPING up to the Blanche Brown Theater in the western San José suburb of Escazú is like walking up to a large suburban ranch house, set back among heavy jungle foliage.“This can’t be it,” you might think to yourself, trying to locate the theater that will be showing, in Costa Rica, a modern metropolitan stage play entirely in English.But, after passing through the garden and behind the house, you are ushered through a back door into a dark theater and, suddenly, you’re no longer in Escazú, or Costa Rica, or even Latin America. You’re in a small indie production house in SoHo, about to watch a professionally staged piece of theater.“THE Good Body,” written by Eve Ensler of “The Vagina Monologues” fame, is the Little Theatre Group’s most recent production.The work is delivered with powerful performances from a wide array of actresses – and one actor – in an impressively professional and highly entertaining style of collaborative direction.When I say collaborative, I mean it. The play was directed by seven different people, working essentially as scene coaches with one or more of the characters. If you’ve seen “The Vagina Monologues,” you’ll understand how this is possible.“The Good Body” follows the same idea as Ensler’s previous work, in that it is presented in a series of monologue vignettes. The main character, played by Susan Liang, is a narrating Ensler, who walks through the world speaking with a diverse group of people about image, identity and feeling good about one’s physical appearance.DESERVING some attention in itself is the fact that a 22-year-old male, whose idea of a good Friday night involves playing pool, arguing baseball statistics and drinking Miller High Life, went to review an almost all-female play about women’s struggle against the image of unattainable beauty perpetuated in the media.That said, the two hours I spent watching this play were really enjoyable. The quality of the performances was impressive, and the overall experience of seeing, in Costa Rica, an in die-style production normally found in the art districts of New York and Chicago provided for a great weekend alternative to watching the Red Sox play the Orioles in a smoky bar.The cast, made up of women hailing from the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, took on the diverse and often complicated roles like veteran Broadway actors.GREAT performances aside, I found the only serious faults of the play to be in Ensler’s script and structure. Whereas the first act follows a solid pattern of dealing with the stresses of being overweight, the second act somehow derails from this theme and left me confused and inevitably losing interest.Also – and this is perhaps the “dude” in me speaking here – although Ensler makes several excellent points about the media and feelings of identity confusion, you can only listen to people complain about their weight and appearance for so long. Though this feeling wasn’t constant throughout the play, there were admittedly moments when the topic grew tiresome to me.However, the play is a great conversation- starter. After it was over, I sat down for some beers with friends and had a long discussion about the work’s central themes. And the play has some very funny moments that elicited great reactions from an obviously rapt crowd.ALL in all, “The Good Body” offers an excellent performance of a decent script. I would definitely recommend it, particularly for the style and atmosphere the Little Theatre Group is able to achieve.“The Good Body” is showing at the Blanche Brown Theater in Bello Horizonte, Escazú, through Oct. 9. Showtimes are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost ¢2,500 ($5.20). For information, reservations or directions, call 355-1623.

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