Face it: The human body is disgusting. Its incessant demand for nutrition forces us daily to engage in such gross activities as chewing and digestion. As sentient beings, we find our consciousness trapped in this ugly bag of mostly water. The body’s adjunct components, tissues and effluvia are what make the mind rebel: the awkwardly distributed fat, the hair that crops up in the darnedest places and the spectacular array of odors that one must be exceedingly fastidious to avoid.
The Good Body explores, in first-person, this Cartesian disconnect between mind and body as experienced by an American woman, anti-violence activist/playwright Eve Ensler (Kathryn Atwood). Ensler’s global travels bring her into contact with a diverse array of women (vigorously portrayed by Tamara Johnson-Howell and Cassandra Stokes Wylie), most of whom deal with body dysmorphia in different (even shocking) ways.
In early childhood, Ensler learned from her parents that being “good” equals physical perfection and self-denial. At the end of the play, her journey brings her to a healthier, self-affirming place, where goodness is judged by how fully her consciousness occupies her own body.
Johnson-Howell is a standout, bringing uncommon warmth and vitality to her multifarious roles. Mikal Troy Klee’s sound design also deserves special mention—an atmospheric, comically New Age arrangement of “Kumbaya” that plays during the fat-camp scene is particularly delightful.
As it turns out, there is much to like about the human body—if only the human mind takes time to learn how to live there.
THE GOOD BODY
Pygmalion Theatre Company
Rose Wagner Center
138 W. Broadway
Through May 14