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Plan-B Theatre Company: Suffrage

Everybody has principles. But what happens when you have to pick which one you’re prepared to fight for? That’s the rich foundation for Jenifer Nii’s Suffrage, set in late-19th-century Utah. Frances (April Fossen, pictured left) and Ruth (Sarah Young, pictured right) are Mormon sister-wives struggling against both the politics of the time and the realities of their lives. While the feisty, younger Ruth finds herself drawn toward the women’s suffrage movement, the older Frances deals with a household in upheaval after their husband is jailed in a crackdown on polygamy. While taking her story through several key historical events leading up to Utah statehood, Nii occasionally strays into a familiar (if gender-bent) conflict where a crusading character is chastised for “caring more about [x] than you care about your own family.” But she ultimately steers clear of that trap, finding a deeply respectful way to address what both of these women find supremely important. Fossen in particular turns in a remarkably multifaceted performance, investing Frances’s commitment to her faith—and her family—with ferocity and dignity. As a result, it’s never easy to dismiss one or the other of these women as misguided in their priorities. As backdrop, set designer Randy Rasmussen has created a fascinating structure of what appears to be cellophane and paper, and its enigmatic nature provides a wonderful subtext. Look at it in one light, and it becomes the solid structure of the Wasatch Mountains; a moment later, it’s clouds blowing on winds of change. Suffrage proves equally adept at conveying both the need for eternal permanence and the yearning for transition. (Scott Renshaw) $20

Date: Apr 4, 2013
Time: 8 pm
Phone: 801-355-2787
Address: 138 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City, 84101
Where: Rose Wagner Center