By John Lyle Belden
I always liked the name of Betty Rage Productions, picturing classic pin-up queen Bettie Page in a feminist fury. But from White to Rubble, there are many kinds of Betty, and we experience that variety in “Collective Rage: A Play in Five Betties,” by Jen Silverman, directed for Betty Rage by Kait Burch at the District Theatre.
With touchstones that include Shakespeare and The Vagina Monologues, in this story we meet five women named Betty who are searching, each in their own way, for something more meaningful.
Our first Betty (Tracy Herring) is very concerned about things in the news, very rich, very restless, very frustrated with her husband, and very rich.
Betty No. 2 (Courtney McClure-Murray) doesn’t come first on this or any list – in fact, she’s realizing she apparently has no real friends at all, or does she?
Betty three (Sarah Zimmerman) is street-smart and expanding her horizons. She just discovered “The Thee-ah-tah” by seeing a show that had summertime and a dream or something, and now wants to “devise a play.”
Betty 4 (Jenni White) seems content to be constantly fixing her truck, but is starting to feel left out of things that involve the other Betties (especially one in particular).
The fifth Betty (Kallen Ruston) is out of rehab and in the gym she owns, helping others find their inner strength. Her present challenge: Betty 1.
Through odd dinner parties and unpredictable rehearsals, these five clash and meld in hilarious scenes. Through their unique personalities, we can see a little of ourselves in at least one Betty – even if we don’t have the same body parts.
Speaking of that, be prepared for a lot of discussions about sex, sexuality, queerness, and calling out the labial-vaginal area by its feline nickname. This is actually essential to the plot, especially when one Betty gets the courage to look at her pussy, and discovers a lion.
Each actor is a badass Betty on her own, as we’ve seen them all in various drama and comic ventures, and Burch has helped them to blend these talents in a way that makes sisterhood, or even becoming lovers, feel natural. I don’t like to pick favorites, but I think the one playing Betty was just awesome.
For a fun and unconventional story of self-discovery and empowerment, engage in “Collective Rage,” this Thursday through Sunday, March 9-12, at the District Theatre, 627 Massachusetts Ave., Indianapolis. Get tickets at indydistricttheatre.org.