Designer duds in wild ‘Desert’

Cadillac Escalades, Louis Vuitton bags, Helmut Lang suits, Manolo Blahnik shoes, the rarest wines, enviable gym memberships — those seem to be the required ingredients for making 21st-century housewives happy.

So the only mistake Fe, the main character in Jessica Hagedorn’s new play “Fe in the Desert” (onstage in an Intersection/Campo Santo production), makes when she bombards the audience with a laundry list of haute couture designers and products — these supposedly household names of the wealthy — is that it might as well be Greek to her audience.

Yet lifestyles of the rich and famous are no longer outside the reach of the not-so-rich or famous. Even at the risk of dire credit card debt and an invisible 401K, people want walls flourished with plasma-screen televisions and their derrières wrapped with Citizens of Humanity denim.

Perhaps this is why, like it or not, audiences can’t help but connect with Fe (pronounced feh) or Felicidad, the play’s central character.

Played flawlessly by Margo Hall, Fe is a spinoff character from Hagedorn’s “Stairway to Heaven,” which debuted at Intersection in 2005 and had audiences enamored with the sassy socialite. Sharp, catty, complicated, predictable, unpredictable — Hagedorn’s character, on paper, is cluttered. Yet Hall is up to the task of letting the character’s unending nuances play out effortlessly and with authoritative clarity.

Fe lives in the desert with her namby-pamby, albeit extraordinarily wealthy husband Bill (Danny Wolohan). Their marriage is like a fairy tale on the outside, yet it’s rife with tension and conflict on the inside. The tumult exacerbates upon the arrival of Tyrone (Robert Hampton) and Mook (Jonsen Vitug), two thugs who invade their home.

The story refusesto unfold in a linear manner. As it twists and turns, it’s thick with anticipation at some moments, deliriously comedic at others, and downright tongue-in-cheek elsewhere.

Countering the conflict and tension, Hagedorn introduces the character Ramon (Michael Torres), a bigwig Hollywood producer whom Tyrone has contacted in hopes of getting Mook an acting gig.

Two video monitors flank the stage; their clever contents help with scene transitions while injecting a wry sense of humor into the meaty script.

The play ends abruptly, bringing a somewhat neat ending to a plotline that has grown delightfully untidy. Oddly enough, it works.

Even better, the audience is left satisfied, yet at the same time, hungry for more. The show leaves Hagedorn with enormous opportunity to write a sequel or future installments and spinoffs based on other characters. This could very well be a delightful series developed exclusively for the stage.

Under direction by Danny Scheie, the strong cast masters a complex story that embodies the lyricism of a Gabriel García Márquez novel and the drama of a telenovela.

Fe in the Desert

Presented by Intersection and Campo Santo

Where: Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Tickets: $9 to $25

Contact: (415) 626-3311 or www.theintersection.org

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

California is set to receive supplies of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is still under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Courtesy photo)
California could receive 380K doses of new J&J COVID vaccine next week

California could receive 380,300 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine… Continue reading

Disability advocates protested outside the home of San Francisco Health Officer Tomas Aragon. (Courtesy Brooke Anderson)
Vaccine rollout plan for people with disabilities remains deeply flawed

On February 13, disability activists paid a visit to the house of… Continue reading

A Bay Area Concrete Recycling facility that opened on PG&E property in 2019. Former PG&E employees have been accused of accepting bribes from Bay Area Concrete. (Courtesy of Bay Area Concrete Recycling via ProPublica)
Lawsuit reveals new allegations against PG&E contractor accused of fraud

By Scott Morris Bay City News Foundation Utility giant Pacific Gas &… Continue reading

New protected bicycle lanes stretch from the city's Portola District to Bernal Heights. (Courtesy Bay City News)
City leaders celebrate protected bike lanes in city’s Portola, Bernal Heights neighborhoods

San Francisco city leaders on Thursday announced the completion of new protected… Continue reading

A short walk leads to the base of Yosemite Falls, requiring no snow gear except in heavy winter conditions. (Matt Johanson/Special to S.F. Examiner)
Snowy destinations abound in Yosemite winter

Those who journey to the mountains discover grand scenery, solitude .

Most Read