Profile Theatre concludes their Wendy Wasserstein series with Uncommon Women and Others, the 1977 play about a group of young women who become friends during their college years at Mount Holyoke. It's typical Wasserstein—smart, upper-class women distilling all the neuroses and anxieties of the time (in this case, the 1970s).
The bulk of the play is a flashback, focusing on the days leading up to the girls' graduation—anxiety about the future abounds, and trepidation about where they will fit into a post-college world dims the excitement of graduating. The production opens with the college friends meeting for the first time in six years, in a scene that is tense with the overcompensation of any reunion. Things smooth out during the flashback sequence, as the relationships between the girls play out in ways both funny, sweet, and uncomfortably real.
The girls are very different: One longs to get married, another wants to do field work in Iraq, while yet another hopes only to make it to age 30. Together they talk frankly about sex, careers, and each other—the same conversation girls are still having in college dorm rooms today.
The ensemble works nicely together, with standout performances from Val Landrum as the bawdy, irreverent Rita, and the ever-excellent Laura Faye Smith in a smaller role as an insecure girl desperate to get out of an environment that she finds competitive and oppressive.
There seem to be a lot of quarter-life crises going around these days, and this show is tailor made for anyone wrestling with the old "What am I doing with my life?" chestnut. The surprising thing about Uncommon Women is how relevant it feels: Though it was written 30 years ago, the same pressures exist today, and the same decisions about family and career and friendship are still made every day both by college graduates and by anyone facing a career change or a move. Wasserstein speaks to these issues, but doesn't provide any solutions—she simply shows us a group of very different women who have gone down very different paths, no value judgments attached. It's an excellent note upon which to conclude Profile's Wasserstein run: I'm going to miss seeing Portland's female talent showcased so effectively and intelligently.