A Particular Class of Women poster

Take a well-written script and add well-grounded, believable actors and you’ve got the makings of a very enjoyable night at the theatre. Fledging NeverYouMind Productions debut offering of Janet Feindel’s 1987 A Particular Class of Women will prove a popular choice for the smart set. 

Set in a semi-seedy Toronto strip club of the early 80’s, eight female actors individually take over the whole stage to give nuanced monologues of their, and by extension, every women’s place in an ever-transitioning world. The character of 42-year-old Lil (Michaela Mann) serves as a metaphor for the piece. She is uncomfortable with the ever-sleazier conditions she finds herself in but she’s a wage slave and realistic enough to know it. After she is let go, she resists then adapts as best she can. Somehow she gets by.

A Particular Class of Women cast
Both teenaged males and the trench coat crowd will probably want their money refunded. Most of the stripping is of the intellectual kind as histories are exposed. Yes, there is real skin on display but it’s there as an incidental part of the character’s costume and really nothing more.
The language used is strong with the C word often making the rounds yet oddly enough it never seems gratuitous. During the monologues, themes of incest, teen pregnancy, abortion, sexual violence, homosexuality, and alcoholism are referenced during character development, not so much to shock but to illuminate. Three female audience members exited their seats early. Why, I know not. Maybe their petit bourgeois sensibilities were outraged, maybe they just needed to use the washroom. That said, the Taliban would probably want to see the show banned for the usual misogynous reasons.
Through A Particular Class of Women, we discover that stripping is often just a job. Not really all that different from working at a bank but with better working conditions and with better pay. The politics of sex are the same even though the venue is different. Nightclub dressing room or suburban bedroom matters ebb and flow and sometimes explode. I became very comfortable with the sentiments of the first seven monologues until the eighth, when everything appeared to turn on its head, creating a wow moment for most of the audience in my opinion.

Photo by Ian McAdie
[Photo by Ian McAdie]
The simple set design of a sofa, a wall phone, a clothes rack, and two dressing room “mirrored” tables proved very effective in allowing each actor to work her way across the stage while delivering her lines in an entirely natural way. I perceived the conversational tone to be directed at me as confidante not judge. Humour abounded even when dark secrets were explored and explained. To bring us back to the “reality” we are witnessing, strip tease routines not so routinely punctuate the proceedings.
While there were many lighting cues, changes for the most part felt remarkably subtle. Perhaps the scene where the spotlights were turned on the audience was a tad overdone, however the backlighting effect to the actor on stage made an important point and I simply missed it. What I did notice, and at first was annoyed by, was a persistent bass beat pulsating during the monologues. When I soon realized that the actors’ words were loud enough to be heard over the the thump-thump-thump, I rested easy and had to credit sound designer John McGie for adding contextual texture to the soundscape. We are supposed to be backstage in a nightclub after all.
I would like to acknowledge and credit the work done by actors Allyson Grant, Paulina Bustamante, Lauren A. Campbell, Lisa-Marie Marrelli , Emily Doreen Wilson, Sara Dawn Pledge, Flora Karas and the aforementioned Ms. Mann. All were just excellent. Though I understand this work has been a very collaborative undertaking, Ms. Marrelli is also credited in the program as Director and deserves a very special mention for getting the very most out of team of players and technicians. I just cannot imagine a more robust telling of this tale.
Any right-minded theatrephile should look forward to NeverYou Minds’ future undertakings. Strong parts for strong women is just what this reviewer wants and believes audiences need. A Particular Class of Women continues at the Waterfront Theatre on Granville Island through October 20 and will then move to New West’s Columbia Theatre on October 24 and 25.

About Our Contributor Larry Ghini

Larry Ghini

Larry Ghini enjoys Vancouver's vibrant theatre scene and has taken in many productions over the years. He holds a BA in Sociology from Simon Fraser University. Larry is financially involved with the film Eadweard Muybridge, produced by Josh Epstein, directed by Kyle Rideout, and starring Michael Eklund.


  • Comment by Lisa C — October 19, 2013 @ 10:39 am

    Well-written & thoughtful review. The show sounds great!

  • Comment by Lisa C — October 19, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    Well-written & thoughtful review–the show sounds great.

  • Comment by Ariane Colenbrander — October 19, 2013 @ 10:44 am

    Thanks, Lisa! Finessed a thoughtful review and we’re happy to see it’s being well-received. Enjoy the weekend.

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