Nina Espinueva, Anna Francis, Bailey Prestin, Floren K, & Ashley Drury in Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties. Photo by Cyndi Powell Chaney

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties

By Jen Silverman
Directed by Kelley Brady

A review by Kate Barry

Entire contents are copyright © 2024 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.

Betty likes to throw a party. Betty likes the theater. Betty learns to love herself. Betty is a boxer. Betty owns a truck. Mind’s Eye Theater Company celebrates Betties and femme identification with their current selection Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties. A self-identified romantic comedy, this play is filled with irresistible wit and a unique way of storytelling. And this offering deserves a larger audience than the tiny crowd who came out on the rainy opening night. 

As the title explains, this play contains rage and Betties. In order of appearance, the Betties are Bailey Preston, Anna Francis, Ashley Drury, Floren K, and Nina Espinueva. This ensemble is as fresh and bold in their identities as their stories unfold on the stage. Dinner parties, kickboxing, repairing trucks, posting videos to social media, and even using hand mirrors to examine genitalia, these Betties bring five distinct points of view to the stage. The motif of a boxing ring is evoked throughout the production, with stanchions and a stagehand in a cheeky costume holding a sign accompanied by a loud bell between scenes, the spirit of fighting to be heard, or to be seen, is never lost in this play.

Bettie #1, played by Bailey Preston opens the show, setting a high bar. Her rants about local news feel current and modern yet relatable. Preston channels a Karen-like demeanor compared to the other Betties which she can release as she begins a boxing hobby. When she meets Bettie #5, played by Nina Espinueva, Preston’s rage transforms into a need to connect. While the chemistry between these two Betties might be sleepy, their bond and love for one another is evident, providing a happy change. Espinueva provides extra laughs to Preston’s wall-breaking rants; where one Bettie is angry, the other Bettie just wants to know who she’s talking to. 

Another love story blossoms between Bettie #4 played by Floren K and Bettie #3 played by Ashley Drury. While the former Betties involve themselves in a meet-cute, these Betties find themselves in strained friendships where feelings might not be mutual. Drury gives as much over-the-top energy as she can for her Bettie who impulsively drops a job at a Sephora to become a theater director. This Bettie is flirty, full of wild ideas, and a little edge. Floren K gives a dry, sardonic performance as the Bettie who harbors feelings for the newly found theater artist. The performance xey give as Bettie #4 has enough contrast while exploring themes of longing and emotional range. When these Betties are finally involved in a scene of conflict, these performers give a nearly heartbreaking confrontation with an even sweeter reconciliation. 

While four Betties find love and connection, one Bettie is left out. And she’s the one to pay attention to, for sure. Anna Francis brings affable lightness to a character who wants friendship and to belong. While the character is lonely and sometimes insecure, Francis will surely avoid cringe or desperation. In a literal self-destructive interaction with a hand puppet, Francis’ Bettie shows how the things we tell ourselves can be cruel, even if those thoughts are far from true. This Bettie carries the most emotional weight in the show as she finally comes to love herself.

Minds Eye Theater Company has put together an inherently self-aware and humorous performance of Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties. Although each character is named Bettie, they could not be more different from each other. These Betties’ experiences are cleverly interwoven to create a rich exploration of friendship and love. 

Featuring Bailey Preston, Anna Francis, Ashley Drury, Floren K &  Nina Espinueva

Collective Rage: A Play in 5 Betties

March 2, 8, & 9 @ 7:30 pm
March 3 & 10 @ 3:00 pm

Minds Eye Theater Company
Highview Arts Center
7406 Fegenbush Lane
Louisville, KY 40228

Kate Barry has worked with many different companies around town since graduating in 08 from Bellarmine University. She’s worked with CenterStage, Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions. She used to work in the box office at that little performing arts center on Main Street but now she helps save the planet. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. Her play “Catcher Released” won an honorable mention with the Kentucky Playwrights Workshop. She has written for LEO Weekly and as well. When she is not writing, she teaches yoga. Thanks for reading!