Designer duds in wild ‘Desert’ 

Cadillac Escalades, Louis Vuitton bags, Helmut Lang suits, Manolo Blahnik shoes, the rarest wines, enviable gym memberships — those seem to be the required ingredients for making 21st-century housewives happy.

So the only mistake Fe, the main character in Jessica Hagedorn’s new play "Fe in the Desert" (onstage in an Intersection/Campo Santo production), makes when she bombards the audience with a laundry list of haute couture designers and products — these supposedly household names of the wealthy — is that it might as well be Greek to her audience.

Yet lifestyles of the rich and famous are no longer outside the reach of the not-so-rich or famous. Even at the risk of dire credit card debt and an invisible 401K, people want walls flourished with plasma-screen televisions and their derrières wrapped with Citizens of Humanity denim.

Perhaps this is why, like it or not, audiences can’t help but connect with Fe (pronounced feh) or Felicidad, the play’s central character.

Played flawlessly by Margo Hall, Fe is a spinoff character from Hagedorn’s "Stairway to Heaven," which debuted at Intersection in 2005 and had audiences enamored with the sassy socialite. Sharp, catty, complicated, predictable, unpredictable — Hagedorn’s character, on paper, is cluttered. Yet Hall is up to the task of letting the character’s unending nuances play out effortlessly and with authoritative clarity.

Fe lives in the desert with her namby-pamby, albeit extraordinarily wealthy husband Bill (Danny Wolohan). Their marriage is like a fairy tale on the outside, yet it’s rife with tension and conflict on the inside. The tumult exacerbates upon the arrival of Tyrone (Robert Hampton) and Mook (Jonsen Vitug), two thugs who invade their home.

The story refusesto unfold in a linear manner. As it twists and turns, it’s thick with anticipation at some moments, deliriously comedic at others, and downright tongue-in-cheek elsewhere.

Countering the conflict and tension, Hagedorn introduces the character Ramon (Michael Torres), a bigwig Hollywood producer whom Tyrone has contacted in hopes of getting Mook an acting gig.

Two video monitors flank the stage; their clever contents help with scene transitions while injecting a wry sense of humor into the meaty script.

The play ends abruptly, bringing a somewhat neat ending to a plotline that has grown delightfully untidy. Oddly enough, it works.

Even better, the audience is left satisfied, yet at the same time, hungry for more. The show leaves Hagedorn with enormous opportunity to write a sequel or future installments and spinoffs based on other characters. This could very well be a delightful series developed exclusively for the stage.

Under direction by Danny Scheie, the strong cast masters a complex story that embodies the lyricism of a Gabriel García Márquez novel and the drama of a telenovela.

Fe in the Desert

Presented by Intersection and Campo Santo

Where: Intersection for the Arts, 446 Valencia St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursday through Sunday

Tickets: $9 to $25

Contact: (415) 626-3311 or

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Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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