To say Little Wars makes a big impact would be an understatement. To say it features strong female characters would be an understatement. But to say PRIME Productions nailed it with their inaugural performance, to say it will leave you speechless, to say it is a must-see, is exactly right.
Little Wars is a fictional story of some very real authors. It imagines a night in the 1940s—in France during WWII—when Gertrude Stein, Alice Toklas, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, and Agatha Christie get together for a dinner party and conversation. And by dinner and conversation, they mean alcohol and arguing.
But make no mistake, this show isn’t just about writers discussing literary tastes. Yes, they debate—loudly—about Hemmingway’s talent and depictions of women and lesbians in plays, but there’s so much more than that. There’s talk of depression, alcoholism, children, marriage, World War II, the Jews, responsibility, love…and then all the subjects come to a head as the two non-writers present that evening, a psychiatrist and a maid, reveal their secrets.
Little Wars takes place in the past and covers timeless topics, but it is anything but a tale as old as time. It’s refreshing to see these women outright argue on stage. There’s no hiding behind nice phrases and smiles or any bullshit of the kind. These women are honest, blunt, unapologetic. And, oh yes, are they ever opinionated. Naturally, their personalities can rub uncomfortably, and the friction is what keeps audiences engaged. What will they do next? What insult will they throw? What information will they divulge? Yet, even if there isn’t friendship, there is respect—however grudging, it’s there.
Praise to the actors, the director, and the script because each character is distinct and fully formed. They might be mysterious or unforthcoming at times, but if they are, it’s for a purpose, and not because they (or the script) lacks conviction. Also, please note that you don’t need to be familiar with the authors to enjoy the play, though it certainly can’t hurt if you are.
Little Wars is PRIME Productions’ first show, and there’s little question why they chose a script with such strong female characters. Founded by Alison Edwards, Elena Giannetti, and Shelli Place (who also directed this show), PRIME’s mission is to celebrate women over fifty. To share their own words: “Our goals is to provide meaningful stories and substantial roles for women in their PRIME. And in doing so, creating opportunities for the amazing talents of local female actors ‘of a certain age’ to share their artistry with Twin Cities’ audiences.”
Little Wars doesn’t shy away from difficult subject or tough questions. What struggles are you battling with every day? What stories do you tell and when? What stories will you take to the grave? If you’re looking for a story about nice girls who nod and agree and live happily ever after, look elsewhere. If you like your stories raw and your heroines with a glass of liquor in hand, Little Wars is it.
Little Wars is a must-see performance. Think that’s an exaggeration? Go see it, and let PRIME prove you wrong.
Photo Credit: Joseph Giannetti
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Running Time: 100 minutes, no intermission