Play showcases memories of war

By Brandon Desiderio
February 15, 2012

The Marple Newtown Players performed“Necessary Targets” in the basement of Swarthmore United Methodist Church.

Stories of strife and unimaginable unity such as what is made apparent in “Necessary Targets,” often go unnoticed.

The Marple Newtown Players ran the last showing of their production of “Necessary Targets” on Saturday, Feb. 4. A local non-profit organization of the greater Main Line area, the “MN” in the group’s name has its origins in the Marple Newtown Township where they were originally founded over 65 years ago.

“Necessary Targets” itself has its roots in such works as “The Vagina Monologues” and “The Good Body,” with its playwright being none other than Eve Ensler herself.

Ensler is most famous for “The Vagina Monologues,” which showcases the nature of her work well. An activist most notably for women’s rights, as well as a feminist, Ensler encapsulates the spirit of womankind and, largely, humankind; her works stand as truthful and raw testimony to innumerable social issues throughout the world.

The MN Players performed Ensler’s “Necessary Targets” in the modest basement of Swarthmore United Methodist Church, the new location of all of their performances. With an all-female cast limited in scope to seven, the storyline consists of two American women traveling to Bosnia in order to help several refugee women cope with their memories of war as well as their personal sufferings.

The American women themselves portray two opposing sides of humankind, with one being a young, determined writer named Melissa, who is in search of utilizing the women’s personal stories as fodder for a story. Her companion is a middle-aged psychiatrist referred to simply as J.S.

The distance in age between the two women exemplifies a rift in their own relations with one another, each with their own conflicting approaches to how best to treat the war-torn women.

With famous women such as Anjelica Huston and Meryl Streep having read the play at a benefit in the United States, along with a similar performance held in Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia, headed by the likes of Glenn Close and Marisa Tomei, it becomes clear to realize how monumental the work is.

The MN Players’ own cast, albeit less renowned, had an unarguably comparable spring of talent on their side.

Cathy Gibbons Mostek, an actress and model, embodied the role of J.S. to its fullest, with her passion raw and immutable; similarly, Jennifer Vick, a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s BFA program and the second leading lady, took on the guise of misguided and naive Melissa effortlessly, making the role both memorable and realistic.

Comprising the equally-talented and emotionally-captivating ensemble of war refugees and generally world-weary women were Susan Mattson (Jelena), who recently appeared in a production of “String of Pearls” at Allens Lane Theater Cindy Nagle Walton (Zlata), a Lansdowne resident, Erin Carr (Nuna), holder of a BFA in acting from NYU-Tisch School of the Arts, Elizabeth Hall (Seada), a graduate of East Stroudsburg University with a degree in theater and last but most certainly not least, Dani Kennedy (Azra), a 20-year community theater veteran whose performance ranked as the funniest, yet most heartfelt and poignant of the night.

The stories presented through the various refugees range from tales of domestic abuse, to gut-wrenching desperation for an ultimate “end,” to the focal issue that has more or less affected all of the women since the war began; something which can only be explained as an unseen yet vital plot twist.

Perhaps it was the stage’s barrenness and simplicity that allowed the testimonies of these women to shine through these talented actresses, or perhaps it was Ensler’s own personalized vision for the production and its relation to her own visit in then-Yugoslavia and the women she met there. Regardless, the production proved to be worth seeing, with the cast well-chosen and thoroughly invested in their imagined viewpoints of life and loss.



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Brandon Desiderio

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