Theresa Rebeck’s Spike Heels went up in the Barron theatre on the 17th and 18th of March without the audience it deserved. Notable for the way in which it handles the issue of sexual harassment alongside its comic underpinnings, the show was definitely a tough sell. Yet, director Addie Gray deftly navigated these issues of workplace harassment and sexual politics, even if she couldn’t avoid the show’s rather divisive ending.
For the most part, Rebeck’s play was charming with the play’s character interactions and apartment setting invoking the spirit of a 90’s American sitcom. The exchanges between the foul mouthed and tempestuous Georgie and her affable neighbour Andrew had the audience chuckling and relaxing into the easy going comedy. Orry Kneale was a scene stealer, winning over the audience with his passive befuddlement as Andrew. His dorky delivery of lines worked best when met with the powerhouse of expletives that seemed to come naturally to Catherine Potter’s Georgie. Despite her American accent slipping at points, Potter showed skill in conveying Georgie’s emotional rollercoaster, conveying genuine fragility at the hands of the men in the play, and doing it all in killer heels no less!
Will Costello brought the sleaze to Edward with the slicked back hair and self-assured walk as Georgie’s smary and sexist lawyer boss. He is a power to match Georgie in a way Andrew cannot. Even though Edward is the ‘bad guy’, Rebeck seems to have gifted him with the most comedic one liners, something that Costello worked well with. The fourth player in the love triangle (love square?) was Andrew’s prim upper class fiancé Lydia. Only appearing in the second act, Sarah Crawford, made every scene count, holding her own and deftly displaying the inner turmoil Lydia was experiencing.
The set was a familiar build of Barron furniture, but extra props displayed around brought the feel of individual characters as the interval saw the switch between Andrew and Georgie’s apartments. Gray made good use of the space, with well thought out blocking maintaining a naturalistic aesthetic. Despite producer Madison Hauser appearing onstage before the show started to warn of tech issues, this by no means detracted from the show.
My main issue with the show comes from the fact that despite Edward threatening to rape Georgie twice, the pair get together by the end of the play. Yes the two are more sexually aggressive than the conservative Andrew and Lydia, but does that conclude they should be together? I heard girls murmuring at the end of the show how Georgie and Lydia should have stuck together and just avoided the problematic boys all together. I couldn’t help but agree.
Controversial, well acted and with good direction – Spike Heels was definitely worth a watch. A clumsy ending couldn’t bring down a thoroughly enjoyable show.