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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 26, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 04
ArtsWest's Peerless is fiercely startling and shockingly real
Arts & Entertainment
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ArtsWest's Peerless is fiercely startling and shockingly real

by Paul Torres - SGN Contributing Writer

ARTSWEST
PEERLESS
Through February 11


Part two of ArtsWest's 'I Am' themed season takes a darker turn with the staging of Jiehae Park's Peerless. On its surface, it's seemingly the goddaughter of the classic film Heathers with its deadly high-school jealousy tones. Where as that film is driven by teen angst, this play is driven by twin teen ambition, which is exhilarating performed here. Park's voice is breathtaking in this tale of millennial chastisement.

Director Sara Porkalob masterfully crafts a seductively twisted tale of two conniving and sinister twin sisters. Peerless is a frightening and frenetic production. It's a tale of morals gone awry. Porkalob is one of Seattle's finest theater directors and this one can be added to that resume.

The chatty opening monologue or duologue in this case overlaps and comes as quick as text message exchanges between two friends or frenemies even. The patter is silly, yet there is something very sinister going on. It's a highly competitive high school for the elite where college admission packets fall out of the sky and land with a plop like dead birds.

As M, a marvelous Corinne Magin portrays the alpha sister who is intent on setting her future right. She is dying to get into the college of her dreams, but there is only one problem; her boyfriend of convenience, D (Christopher Quilici), has taken her spot. She is intent on changing that by whatever means possible. Her twin sister, L, as played by an excellent Maile Wong, is her accomplice and in a way her spirit guide, an evil spirit guide, but nonetheless she is there for her. Both Magin and Wong are well cast as the sisters and convincingly portray look-alike twins hellbent on getting what they want.

Poor D is awkward and nerdy. He dances like a chubby drunk uncle at a wedding, offbeat and out of time, wearing an EpiPen necklace due to his tree nut allergy. Unbeknownst to him, he has a target on his back as well as some tasty cookies coming his way. As the twins see it, 'he takes up space that doesn't belong to him' and everything evil that this implies.

Along the way L and M intertwine with BF (Jonathan Keyes) and the mystical Dirty Girl (Erin Bednarz). The BF character provides some grounding to the theme of blind ambition while Dirty Girl sneaks in, vaporizes in and out, or just plops down with mystic prophecies as if she can see through the twins.

Peerless is fiercely startling and shockingly real because we know young girls like this exist in today's competitive society. The ultimate goal is acceptance into an elite college once they get over the unnecessary burden of a more talented candidate stealing a spot, but it's an illusion. This makes Peerless frightening and ultimately a piece of, well, peerless entertainment, all the way to its big reveal in the chilling final scene, a twist that is although not surprising is still shocking in its nerviness as played on this stage.

For more information and tickets, go to www.artswest.org or call (206) 938-0339. ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery is located at 4711 California Ave. SW (just south of SW Alaska St.) at the West Seattle Junction.

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ArtsWest's Peerless is fiercely startling and shockingly real
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