Owen Carey

I’ve had Le Tigre’s “Deceptacon” stuck in my head ever since I saw Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. When the song hit us, as we sat patiently in the dark of the CoHo theatre, it was enough to make people do little dances in their seats. Alice Birch’s script doesn’t call for specific music—or any music—but it’s a perfect fit. All the adaptations Third Rail Repertory made to Revolt’s open-ended directions are energetic, prescient, and intelligent. They really outdid themselves on this one.

At the outset of each of Revolt’s sparsely staged scenes, one of the play’s four actresses danced in the light of an overhead projector (backed by fast-paced Le Tigre or Bikini Kill) and threw down transparencies spelling out the title of the next scene. “Revolutionize the Language. (Invert It.)” “Revolutionize the World. (Do Not Marry.)” And so forth. The first few times this happened, the CoHo audience responded with mildly lecherous hoots. After all, what is a woman doing dancing in the glow of a scholastic overhead projector if she doesn’t want to be catcalled? I honestly don’t know why that happened, but it is why Birch’s Revolt exists. The actresses won’t tell you—don’t have time to tell you—but Revolt isn’t a play to catcall. Revolt, if I haven’t made it clear, is a rebellious and frequently hilarious interrogation of modern womanhood and fourth-wave feminism.

During one chaotic moment there’s an argument between Actor 4 (Sarah Smith) and Actor 1 (Rolland Walsh) where she repeatedly tells him that he’s trespassing, and though he apologizes, he fails to leave. He tells her how badly he feels, and Actor 4 consoles him before eventually saying, “Not to worry. Need to get you a bigger ‘No Trespassing’ sign.” They laugh.

Owen Carey

A newcomer to Third Rail, Smith possesses preternatural comedic timing, whether she’s sitting in and sifting through a garbage bag of makeup or trying to avoid her lover in mid-proposal kneel. I vacillated on giving Walsh his very due props because YOU KNOW it’s not about men. But fuck it: Rolland Walsh is delightful as the male foil and throws himself wholeheartedly into strutting around in tighty whities while shouting, “I am not aroused by porn!” His willingness to mercilessly lampoon his character brightens the whole show and puts in a good word for men at the same time. If Walsh is willing to go through this to help make Alice Birch’s point, then maybe some men are really on our side after all.

Revolt has bristly things to say about marriage, porn, dildos, having children, consent—all the good stuff—and I would encourage everyone to hear its questions as questions. Birch names the first scene of act two, “Revolutionize the Word. (Don’t Reproduce.),” even though she has a child. Revolt was written to be bold. In turn we can be bold by not being defensive. I want everyone to see this play, not only for its important questions, but because it’s fun and funny as hell! It is, I dare say, a riot.