Wonder Woman’s origins explored in ‘Lasso of Truth’
After she was introduced as a comic book character in 1941, Wonder Woman became the symbol of a new kind of feminism that paired traditional female qualities with greater strength, power and independence.
Playwright Carson Kreitzer looks at this character’s origin and influence in her new play, “Lasso of Truth,” being given its world premiere by Marin Theatre Company.
Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston, who was a psychiatrist and inventor, among other things. He is credited with inventing a machine that measured systolic blood pressure as way of determining if a person was telling the truth. It was the forerunner of today’s polygraph, or lie detector.
Kreitzer calls him The Inventor (Nicholas Rose). He’s happily married to The Wife (Jessa Brie Moreno), a strong, practical, professional working woman.
His seductive assistant, The Amazon (Liz Sklar), becomes involved in a threesome with the couple. Part of their relationship includes consensual bondage.
In the meantime, a separate story emerges as a contemporary young woman, The Girl (Lauren English), talks about how much she was influenced by Wonder Woman both in the comics and in the TV character portrayed by Lynda Carter.
She’s so fascinated with the superheroine that she goes to a comic book store run by a collector, The Guy (John Riedlinger). She wants to buy an original copy of the All-Star Comics in which Wonder Woman first appeared.
Gloria Steinem is a quasi-character, seen in cartoon-like videos created by Kwame Braun. Graphics by Jacob Stoltz also propel the play.
The two stories unfold on a stark set designed by Annie Smart with often dark, moody lighting by Jim French and equally moody music and sound by Cliff Caruthers. Costumes by Callie Floor help to define the characters.
The play’s title, “Lasso of Truth,” refers to a mythological, “magic lariat of unbreakable, pure gold” that can “compel absolute truth from any man or god confined within it,” according to MTC. It might also refer to the band that The Inventor applied to measure systolic blood pressure. Still another connection might be the ropes used for the threesome’s bondage.
MTC is producing the play as part of the National New Play Network’s rolling world premiere, which involves separate productions by Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta and Unicorn Theatre in Kansas City,Mo.
Directed by artistic director Jasson Minadakis in a style appropriately reminiscent of cartoons, the two-act MTC production is well acted all the way around with strong production values. The basic plot is intriguing, made more so by informative program notes. Running about two and a half hours, it has sections that could be tightened, such as those with The Inventor’s machine.
Overall, though, it’s fascinating, especially since The Inventor, The Wife and The Amazon are based on real people who led unusual lives, to say the least.
“Lasso of Truth” will continue at Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Ave., Mill Valley, through March 16. For tickets and information, call (415) 388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org.