“Spike Heels,” by playwright, novelist and former “Smash” showrunner Theresa Rebeck, explores the modernization of gender roles and the use of sexual power in relationships through the visual metaphor of high-heeled shoes. The play was first produced in New York City in 1992.
This production of “Spike Heels, directed by Cal Poly theater professor Heidi Nees, centers on four characters struggling with the complexities of a love triangle and the impact of social barriers.
Andrew (Jacob Cosaro), a professor at a small Boston college, has been teaching his working-class neighbor, vivacious Georgie (Christina Garcia), how to better her life by introducing her to books, proper language and culture.
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Andrew helps Georgie secure a job at the law firm of his handsome and charming best friend, Edward (Chris Judge).
Lydia (Libby Wahlmeier), who is from a prominent upper-class family, is engaged to Andrew and once dated Edward. Now Edward is trying to seduce Georgie.
Andrew’s efforts to mentor Georgie begin to manifest into feelings of possession and jealousy, impacting his engagement to Lydia and his friendship with Edward. The characters ultimately reveal their lust, weaknesses and self-doubts in this ongoing power struggle.
To further underscore these complex relationships, the characters have very different personalities. Sexy and sarcastic Georgie is nothing like the cold, uptight Lydia, while cautious and meticulous Andrew is the complete opposite of the extroverted and daring Edward.
“What draws me to this play is that it investigates the ways we relate to each other, both the good and the bad,” Nees said in the news release for “Spike Heels.” “These are characters that make mistakes, say things they wish they hadn’t, make discoveries about themselves and each other, and seek balance within themselves and in their relationships.”
The two-act play takes place in the apartments of Andrew and Georgie. Smartly designed by Pegi Marshall-Amundsen, each apartment effectively represents their character with the use of a variety of staggered bookshelves.
Andrew’s shelves are filled with books while Georgie’s come complete with the uncomfortable high-heeled shoes that she claims make her legs look great.
These fashionable shoes represent a visual metaphor for relationships. A sexy pair of heels can make a woman feel powerful or insecure similar to how both men and women can feel in relationships.
Thomas John Beard’s costume design fits the contemporary nature of the play with sexy outfits for Georgie, formal attire for Lydia and business suits for Andrew and Edward. “Spike Heels” also features the work of costume shop manager Sarah Bryan and technical director Clint Bryson.
About 30 Cal Poly students from a variety of majors contributed to the production through construction, backstage work, management and performances.
This production makes a valiant effort to connect with the subject matter despite the youthfulness of its actors. The ensemble acts well together but the play may be better suited for seasoned actors with more life experiences.
In addition, the conclusion of “Spike Heels” seems abrupt and may not satisfy audience expectations of resolution with the characters. Although the ending may be disappointing, this contemporary spin on power struggles in relationships is sure to spark a conversation about love, sex and everything in between.
8 p.m. tonight, Friday and Saturday
Spanos Theatre, Cal Poly $20, $12 students, faculty/staff, seniors and children
756-4849 or www.pacslo.org