Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD Review – Hit or Miss Social Commentary

Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Echaka Agba, Daniella Pereira and Jennifer Engstrom Photo: Charles Osgood

If you’re curious why a play is titled “women laughing alone eating salad,” please do a quick Google search of “woman eating salad.” You might have noticed each and every image that pops up with this search has a woman eating, salad of course, but more noticeably, every single one of them looks incredibly and inexplicably overjoyed with this task. These stock images have become a meme today and beg the question—Why do people and photographers think women are so happy eating salad?

Playwright Sheila Callaghan took it upon herself to explore this underlying meaning in WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD.

Theatre Wit Tackles Gender Perception

WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD is told through Guy’s perspective as we learn about his relationships with various women in his life. Tori, his girlfriend who is an “LA fitness girl” is the type of thin where everyone worries about her. Meredith is the “Cool/Rihanna girl” he meets at a club and immediately wants to do nothing more than f*ck her. And finally his mom is an ex-activist turned housewife who seems to stop at nothing to keep herself looking youthful.

WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD follows Guy through his twenties and then ten years later as he reflects on these women who haunt him.

Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Japhet Balaban, Echaka Agba, Daniella Pereira, and Jennifer Engstrom Photo: Charles Osgood
Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Echaka Agba Photo: Charles Osgood

Actors Embody Their Given Stereotypes

The cast of WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD takes on their generic roles in society as perceived by the main Guy and tackle these roles to the fullest.

We see the vulnerability from Echaka Agba playing Meredith after a threesome with Guy and his girlfriend Tori. Jennifer Engstrom switches with ease from Sandy in the first act into a thirty-nine year old marketing department dude in the second. And Guy played by Japhet Balaban has that pompous "I am more cultured than you" vibe that most creative writing majors are stereotyped to have.

Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Daniella Pereiratangles, Echaka Agba, and Japhet Balaban Photo: Charles Osgood

Elevating Social Commentary

But for this writer it had a few problematic moments - like the use of "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke. More, fellow feminists might also think it’s a bigger miss because when the women in this play speak they always do so through Guys’ perceptions. 

To be fair, the work is supposed to “hold a mirror up to society” by telling this story from the perspective of a privileged, white, “woke,” dude and how he perceives the women around him. But how frustrating to not be able to hear the real voices of these women characters, which would be far more empowering and furthering the feminist cause as we think the playwright wants to do. These frustrations aside, it does what it’s supposed to do as a satire piece.

Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Jennifer Engstrom and Japhet Balaban Photo: Charles Osgood

WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE WITH SALAD is a complex play that will either be a hit or a miss for some, but either way you’ll be talking about how it handles stereotypes, gender expectations, objectification of the male gaze, fragile masculinity, and much more when you leave the theater. Some people might enjoy this show if they’re looking for a social commentary piece with funny zingers related to salad. It might not be a top pick for those who are looking for an empowering feminist work . 

SOMEWHAT RECOMMENDED

Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago

When

Now through through May 12
Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Sunday at 3 p.m.

Where

Theatre Wit
1229 N. Belmont
Chicago, IL 60657

Tickets

$12-$70
Tickets can be purchased through the Theatre Wit website or by calling the box office at 773.975.8150

Photos

Charles Osgood

Theatre Wit WOMEN LAUGHING ALONE EATING SALAD
Echaka Agba and Japhet Balaban Photo: Charles Osgood
Alexis Bugajski Photo: Liz Lin

About the Author

Alexis is a theater reviewer, travel bug, media specialist, and burger & beer enthusiast. During the day she works in the advertising business as a senior communications designer. When night falls, or when she can escape to New York, she’s hitting the theaters to see as many shows as she can. And whenever she’s not at her desk or in the audience, she’s out seeking the best burger and beer offerings in Chicago.

Editor's Note:  Click here to read more Picture this Post articles by Alexis Bugajski

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