“Peerless” at Arts West

“Peerless” at Arts West

“Peerless,” written by Jiehae Park, is described by many as a dark comedy. It’s all about the angst and murderous competition today to get into one’s college of choice, especially if applications are being made only to the very top ranked schools in the nation. It’s an interesting concept, and reviews of previous productions of the play are laudatory. Unfortunately I found this production to be somewhat cartoonish.

The central characters are high achieving twin Asian girls out to get early admission to “the college,” think one of the most prestigious universities in the nation. They will do anything to achieve their goal and that includes knocking off any serious competitor. For that reason, the play as produced in other cities has been likened to “Macbeth.” Again, I found that to be a bit of a stretch, but there it is. The “mean girls” meet “Macbeth” just didn’t resonate for me on this stage as it apparently has elsewhere in the country.

Direction here is provided by Sara Porkalob, one of Seattle’s stars in the firmament of new Seattle talent. Working with scenic designer Reiko Huffman they’ve created a minimalist set. There’s a central riser in front, a stage-long platform in the rear. Floating oblong panels lined up equidistant from one another form the backdrop. It works.

Maile Wong plays “l” (get it, “El”?) and Corinne Magin plays her sister “M” (get it “Em”?). Christopher Quilici as “D” is the Native American who represents the greatest threat to the sisters in their quest for admission to the nation’s most respected university.

The show has been extremely popular with young people who are now enduring or recently have endured the horrors of college admissions. It’s a theme to which they can readily relate.

Through Feb. 11 at Arts West, 4711 California Ave., SW, Seattle, http://artswest.org/theatre/buy-tickets

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