Monday, February 19, 2018

No Ordinary Dame: Jill Vice and A Fatal Step

A Fatal Step

The Marsh Theatre -  San Francisco

Written and performed by Jill Vice
Directed by Mark Kenward
Developed with David Ford
January 18-April 29, 2018

Jill Vice (photo: John Orvis)
A Fatal Step is a fun heist of familiar Film Noir tropes: the dangerous dame, the good Joe, and six other characters that tell the story of a woman trying to hold on to her man, except the tables are turned and expectations are flipped like Blackjack cards in a smoky casino. Written and performed by Jill Vice, A Fatal Step is about a woman finding her true power and discovering what she really wants, overcoming unexpected circumstances.
Jill Vice (photo: John Orvis)

Vice is a master of eight different characters, with eight different voices and mannerisms that she engages in fast-paced dialog, so convincing that you can visualize them all, from the Bogart-infused idealistic podiatrist husband to the mousy good girl who threatens to steal him away to the bedridden mother appropriately named Mona, because that’s what she does, to the smart-ass Lyft driver, and others. It’s an ingenious and fun device to have the setting be contemporary but threaded with 40’s film noir patter and drama. Vice is a one-woman character machine, bringing the story to life in practiced perfection.

Jill Vice and Eddie Muller, the "Czar of Noir" (photo: Bill Selby)  
After the February 8 show was a talk back with Jill Vice and Eddie Muller, the “Czar of Noir” who explained the essence of Film Noir, where usually the tables are turned on characters, and where good intentions don’t lead to expected good endings. There’s a darkness that’s ripe for mining, and this is what Vice does with A Fatal Step. Her “femme fatale” is really an everywoman who’s just trying to lay her claim on the world, is thwarted, but manages to come out victorious. A Fatal Step is a night of well-crafted, well-directed and polished theater. It’s playing only on Thursday and Saturdays at the Marsh San Francisco until April 29, so catch it while you can.