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Review: ‘Hot Her’ Hit and Miss in the Kronauer Space

Student-written retelling of the Atalanta myth shows promise

By Eugenia B. Schraa, Crimson Staff Writer

The Hot Her

Kronauer Space, December 5-6

Written and Directed by

Kyle R. McCarthy ’06

The Hot Her, which ran this weekend, is representative of a certain kind of viewing experience that every Harvard student should have before they graduate. The play was written by a female Co-op resident named Kyle (Kyle R. McCarthy ’06) and staged in Adams House’s tiny, very black black box theater, the Kronauer. It seemed almost expected that the show should start 15 minutes late, to give the actors time to indulge in a last cigarette or two. The audience, made up of the artsy and the Co-op-esque, was happy enough to pass the time by chatting and welcoming their friends in the audience. Everybody knew each other here.

McCarthy’s play was suitably inscrutable fare for the setting. I’m not sure that I really understand its plot, or that I’m really supposed to (the same goes for the play’s name). From what I can gather, the story revolves around the mythical Atalanta, the fittest of the Greek heroines, who challenges suitors to race her if they wish for her hand. The one man who is able to win her over throws golden apples in her path, which, in McCarthy’s version at least, Atalanta stops to pick up because she associates them with apple pie and the domesticity that she secretly wants.

My interpretation of McCarthy’s take on this myth might be reading too much into it, but I figure that if this piece is ever anthologized as one of McCarthy’s “flawed, but promising” early works, some graduate student will come up with an equally overblown explanation—so I might as well make the first attempt.

McCarthy certainly has promise. The Hot Her was filled with strong characters and an exciting plot of murder, lust and repressed lesbianism (always a good element). Kayla Y. Rosen ’04, as Atalanta, drew us in with her melancholy beauty and makes us understand her world—her hobby is seducing men and then killing them. As Orion, John Dewis managed to convey the brash arrogance which characterizes the Greek gods, even while wearing a ridiculous track suit (for running the race).

The only problem with The Hot Her is that we can’t understand what these people are saying; they like to talk in poetic wordiness which has to be read to be believed. As I heard them: “he’s not a lizard, not a pig,” (Atalanta about Orion); “stop dithering, smithering,” (Atalanta to Lacie, her obsessive friend); and “all because the crossing has already been crossed.” Add to this a rather clichéd feminist reading of Atalanta’s motives—her athletic agility and contempt of men is all a facade, and she secretly yearns for a virile young companion for her nights—and you have a play which is a bit of a disappointment.

But that’s what’s great about the Kronauer setting. This is a place where people perhaps take themselves too seriously, but at lest that means they’ll probably keep honing their craft. A play is at its most exciting when you get the feeling that its cast, its crew and its writer are only going to improve with age.

—Crimson Arts Critic Eugenia B. Schraa can be reached at schraa@fas.harvard.edu.

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