(Image via WaspWomanPlay.com)
“Well, what can you say?”
With that tension-breaking line, tragic Hollywood actress Susan Cabot — played with ironic verve by Sean Young in her NYC stage debut — eulogizes herself in Rider McDowell's awkward yet occasionally compelling play Ode to the Wasp Woman, which briskly chronicles the last two days in the lives of four Hollywood cautionary tales.
It is a perfect moment to laugh, one of which Young takes full advantage, screwing up her face conspiratorially, bonding with the audience after we have just watched a dramatization of what led to Cabot's murder at the hands of her own son. Cabot's story — the starlet ended her film career with Roger Corman's The Wasp Woman in the '50s before sinking into depression — is only a quarter of the play, yet it involves the fickleness of fame, mental illness, forced medication, brutal murder and some light incest, making it clear why Young would find the part juicy enough to tackle. She also gets to read from a 1986 copy of the porno mag Gallery about shaved pussies ... and to make an overbearing, insecure, narcissistic mother come off as weirdly sympathetic.