Saturday, March 24, 2018

REVIEW: Great Graphics Upstage Graphic Production of BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS

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Akvavit Theatre Presents the U.S. Premiere of
By Astrid Saalbach
Translated by Michael Evans
Directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch
March 21 – April 14 at Strawdog Theatre Company

 Running time: 1:35, no intermission

(left to right) Kirstin Franklin, Kim Boler, Madelyn Loehr and Jennifer Cheung in Akvavit Theatre's U.S. premiere of BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS. All photos by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom.

(left to right) Kim Boler and Madelyn Loehr 
Photo by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom.

BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS has got it all... a dildo wearing crazy lady who appears to be homeless, mob murders and mystery, a bereft beautician's on line porn video, sex toy fights, bridal penetration with styling implements, and plenty of off color banter. It's impressive to see five actors playing 28 roles in 95 minutes. Yet something is lacking. Maybe things get lost in translation, a witty turn of phrase, or culture. Or maybe the endless parade of quirky characters are just too similar, with quick and superficial changes. Much of the ribald one liners and props seemed gratuitous, as if their only purpose was to shock, rather than to advance the plot, or even add much humor. I had high hopes after reading that this show "...examines the intersection of identity and appearance, what it means to be female, and the creative process." BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS has plot potential, but this production ultimately falls short of being all that insightful, shocking or funny. 

That said, the graphic arts are outstanding. We were crazy impressed with the colorful show posters, collectable cards for each stylist, and a beautician's chair setup with props for lobby photo ops. 

ChiIL Mama ChiILin' with Akvavit. Photo taken by my friend & actual hair stylist, Flo Mano!

I'm also a big fan of the laminated, returnable programs with a big bouffant on the front & flip side!

It's almost worth going just to check out the visuals. Kudos to the designer of these funky, fun visuals.

Catch BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS at Strawdog Theatre Company's new space through April 15th. Somewhat recommended.

The cast of Akvavit Theatre’s U.S. premiere of BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS includes (left to right) Jennifer Adams, Kim Boler, Jennifer Cheung, Kirstin Franklin and Madelyn Loehr.

Akvavit Theatre is pleased to present the U.S. premiere of the madcap Danish comedy BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS by Astrid Saalbach, translated by Michael Evans and directed by Co-Artistic Director Breahan Pautsch, playing March 21 – April 14, 2018 at the new Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice in Chicago. Tickets are currently available at

In this black comedy, five women play 28 characters as they work through the absurdities and trials of trying to be a "good girl" in modern society: a professional success, a perfect mother, the right kind of feminist. BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS follows four hairstylists in a salon, trying to grow their business in a competitive field. In a series of hilarious and tragic scenes, the stylists lend their ears and their scissors to a parade of customers. They make up their hair, their faces, and give shape to the stories about who they are. But with the arrival of a mysterious stranger, life in the salon starts to get complicated – and dangerous. As the women's stories begin to unravel, the play examines what we owe to ourselves and each other, the difficulty of forming true connections, and all the ways in which we fail.  

BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS is a Danish comedy about four hair stylists and one peculiar patron, mysteriously named "A."  Five actors play 28 roles in this madcap dark comedy that examines the intersection of identity and appearance, what it means to be female, and the creative process.

The production team for BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS includes: Elyse Balogh (scenic design), Lily Walls (costume design), David Goodman-Edberg (lighting design), Nigel Harsch (sound design), Hillarie Shockley (props design), Rick Gilbert and Victor Bayona (violence/intimacy design) Keith Ryan (hair/wig design), Lindsay Tornquist (asst. director), Harrison Ornelis (technical director) and Hannah Harper-Smith (stage manager).


Location: Strawdog Theatre Company, 1802 W. Berenice, Chicago
Regular run: Thursday, March 23 – Saturday, April 14, 2018
Curtain Times: Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm; Sundays at 4 pm. 
Tickets: Previews: $10. Regular Run: $25. Students/seniors/industry $15. Tickets are currently available at

About the Artists
Astrid Saalbach (Playwright) was trained as an actress at the Danish National School of Theatre from 1975 to 1978. She has received several awards including the Danish dramatist’s honor award and the lifelong grant of the Danish art fund. 

Michael Evans (Translator) went to Norway as an exchange student and just stayed there. Since the 1980s he has been working as a dramaturg at the Rogaland Theatre in Stavanger, where he has overseen four productions of Saalbach’s plays. His English translations of her plays have been seen in London, Chicago, Guelph and Toronto. His most recent translation was of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman for the Norwegian National Theatre.  His textbook Innføring I Dramaturgi is widely used in Scandinavia and is currently in it’s fifth printing.

Breahan Eve Pautsch (Director) is originally from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She earned her BA in Theatre and English at UW-Madison and has been working in Chicago as an actor and director since 2003. She has been a company member with Akvavit Theatre since 2011, where she served as Literary Manager and Director of Development for several years before taking the position of co-Artistic Director at the beginning of 2017. She is also a company member with Indie Boots Theatre. As a director, she has worked with Akvavit, Raven Theatre, Wildclaw Theatre, The International Voices Project, Hobo Junction Productions, Full Voice Productions, Mudgeonsoul Cinema, Broken Nose Theatre and Stockyards Theatre Project. 

About Akvavit Theatre
Akvavit Theatre is haunted by Nordic visions: deep forests and ice-blue seas, the patience of the glacier, the sudden fury of the volcano, the arctic light and silence. Seeking the universal through the voices of contemporary Nordic playwrights, Akvavit Theatre is a kind of homecoming, a connecting back to the lands whose people and cultures have for generations been a part of the great prairies of North America that we call home. And like our namesake beverage, Akvavit brings a “strong spirit” to the work that we produce. Skål, Skál, Kippis! For additional information, visit

(left to right) Kim Boler, Jennifer Adams, Jennifer Cheung, Kirstin Franklin and Madelyn Loehr in Akvavit Theatre's U.S. premiere of BAD GIRLS: THE STYLISTS. Photo by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom.

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