Wickedest Woman

Madame Restell (Jessica O’Hara-Baker) hangs a sign announcing her office as a "Female Physician." Original photo by Braddon Lee Murphy.
A handsome set by Anna Driftmier that looks like it might have been designed by the great recycler, Louise Nevelson, is the real star of this show.

By Andrew Andrews

In the mid nineteenth century, when the medical profession wasn’t particularly regulated, anyone could hang a shingle calling themselves a doctor and dispense “medications” and perform surgery without any real qualifications.

One such person was Ann Lohman, a self-proclaimed “female physician” who amassed a great fortune in New York City, performing abortions and arranging the adoption of illegitimate babies under the alias Madame Restell, at a time when most reputable doctors and hospitals would not dare do either.

Wickedest Woman is Lohman’s story, told from her own perspective.

Starring Jessica O’Hara-Barker as the strong female lead and with Jose-Maria Aguila in the supporting role as her second husband, this production, written by Jessica Bashline and directed by Melissa Crespo, features a handsome set by Anna Driftmier that looks like it might have been designed by the great recycler, Louise Nevelson.

Featuring live, traditional folk songs about the melancholic fate of women in a land dominated by an elite patriarchy incapable of experiencing pregnancy or poverty, Wickedest Woman straddles the line that would make it a musical, and the assignment of the gender-diverse cast to roles that dismiss the binary in Victorian-era costumes allow this production to straddle the line that would label it experimental theater.

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Andrew Andrews attended Wickedest Woman at McGinn/Cazale Theater WP Theater in New York on Tuesday, January 22, 2019 @ 7:00pm to write this review.

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COMMON GROUND

Although only a reading of a work-in-progress, the show had us singing along during the performance and well into the evening.

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