Cabaret Unkempt at DiverseWorks

A self-identified "Afro-Cuban American woman of size," actor/writer Jennylin Duany put together music, poetry, circus, performance art and projected media to create the show Cabaret Unkempt, a funny, fluid, wildly current examination of body image.

In one scene, thin and toned cast mate Elizabeth Doud peels the plus-sized Duany's evening gown off of her; the white slip underneath becomes a screen onto which images of a much thinner woman are projected.

In another scene, Duany is wearing an evening gown with two Slinky toys tied to the chest. Duany stretches them and the toys bob and bounce, reaching almost to the floor as she speaks. "The truth is, our breasts, one day, they fall," laughs Duany. "And what do you do? How do you react? That piece is about exploring that for yourself, and about plastic surgery.

"Someone in my family was having a mastectomy, and at the same time another member was having breast enhancement surgery. It was really interesting for me to see that duality. For one person, it was a matter of life and death. For another person, it was also about life and death, but in a more psychological way.

"I live in Miami and there's a big plastic surgery industry that's going on. I realized that our bodies had become disposable. If you want surgery, you can have it. If you don't have the money, don't worry about it. You can mortgage your house and pay for it, no problem. But do you ever have a dialogue with yourself? How do you get to that decision? It was really important for me to explore that."

Cabaret Unkempt premiered in Miami a couple of years ago, and Houstonians get their chance to see it today and tomorrow at 8 p.m. DiverseWorks, 1117 East Freeway. For information, call 713-223-8346 or visit www.diverseworks.org. $10 to $15.
Fri., Feb. 15, 8 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 16, 8 p.m., 2008

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Lee Williams