If you’re looking for the most savage depiction of the plight of the college-educated young woman struggling to manage work/life balance, don’t look to Sex and the City, Real Housewives of New York, or even the Fight Club spoof on last week’s 30 Rock. Instead, you’ll find it at UNDER St. Marks in Caitlin and the Swan, yet another fine production by The Management. In an adult working girls' night out, everything is going relatively normally until you hear a beast bellowing from behind the stage so loudly that it seems more fitting for a Martin McDonagh play. Yet it turns out that the bellow is from Peter the Pig, the new physical relationship (or as the kids call it these days, fuck buddy) of married, bored, and still virile Rachel (Teresa Stephenson). Peter, in the world of this play, isn’t just a metaphorical pig.
That her friends don’t walk out in disgust is a sign that playwright Dorothy Fortenberry did not have realism in mind when writing Caitlin and the Swan, but the emotional plight of the women who make up the play is as real as anything. All three of the central female characters have a different species that brings out their animal instincts: Rachel her pig, Indian lesbian gynecologist Priya (Shetal Shah) a cat, and Caitlin (the exceptionally versatile Marguerite French), whose indecision becomes the central focus of the play, the Swan that haunts the lawn of the too-smart-for-his-own-good Bastian (Jake Aron) whom Caitlin is SAT tutoring.
As the choreography, costumes, and names indicate, Caitlin and the Swan is something of a revisionist feminist adaptation of Swan Lake: in addition to the gender reversal of who woos the swan, while Tchaikovsky’s ballet focused on marriage and commitment, Caitlin and the Swan focuses on pure sexual desire. The endings are reversed as well; the ballet ends with a sad but beautiful romantic image of forlorn lovers falling into the sea, while Fortenberry’s play ends happily with Caitlin satisfied with her life but having had to perform a senseless act of violation and destruction to trigger that ending.