The Civilians and Its Ladies Exit Off-Broadway's Chashama Feb. 29

News   The Civilians and Its Ladies Exit Off-Broadway's Chashama Feb. 29 The Civilians, a new Off-Broadway troupe which received positive notices for its Canard, Canard, Goose and Gone Missing, will close its latest offering, The Ladies, on Feb. 29. Performances began Feb. 6.

The new piece, by Anne Washburn and directed by Anne Kauffman, will be the last play to run at Chashama's 111 West 42nd Street space before the midtown block is razed to make way for a new office building.

The work was originally given a six-show workshop at HERE, Jan. 17-26, 2003. The piece is presented by Dixon Place, in association with Chashama and Cherry Lane Theatre.

While it is called The Ladies, few would call some of the half-dozen women depicted in the play "ladies." They include four infamous dictators' wives: Elena Ceausescu, spouse of the former Rumanian Communist strongman; Imelda Marcos, the shoe-collecting half of the Phillipines' Marcos regime; Eva Peron, whose short reign as the wife of Argentina's Juan Peron brought her international fame and derision (as well as a musical based on her life); and Jiang Qing, a.k.a. Madame Mao.

And the other two ladies? Strangely enough, Washburn and Kauffman have placed themselves in this unsavory crowd. The work, which is made up of new text, found text and the women's own words, will explore "the pleasures and perils of the dictatorial impulse." The actors playing Kauffman and Washburn are often depicted at bars and cafes trying to dope out the eventual nature of the project, while negotiating their attidude toward the "ladies" in question, as well as their mixed feelings about power. Other scenes in the highly self-conscious and rigorously deconstructed text include rehearsals of the play and several musical numbers.

The six member cast features Quincy Tyler Bernstine (as Ceausescu), Jennifer Dundas (as Washburn), Nina Hellman (as Mao), Jennifer R. Morris (as Kauffman), Maria Striar (as Peron) and Alison Weller (as Marcos). Dundas is a Broadway and Off-Broadway vet, whose credits include Arcadia, Good as New and Iron. Striar is one of the artistic directors of Clubbed Thumb. Washburn earlier explored the legacy of Elena Ceausescu with The Communist Dracula Pageant, a comic drama focusing on the Rumanian Revolution of 1989, which was workshopped at Downtown Manhattan's Soho Rep. Last fall, her Apparition was seen at Chashama.

Tickets are $15. Call (212) 219-0736.