Tenderina from FrenetiCore: Plenty of Confusion, Not Enough Striptease

Categories: Stage

Photo by Mauro Luna
Cast of Tenderina
When I heard that Tenderina, a new production by FrenetiCore, was a play, a dance performance, a film work, a poem and a striptease, I was skeptical. This sounded like a show with an identity crisis.

And it was, with a bit of psychosis thrown in. From what I could understand, the general idea of poet Loueva Smith's play is this: A former good-girl ballerina turns into a stripper, known as the Girl Matador. She's rechristened by Kirk, a strip club patron who falls in love with her, as Tenderina. The whole rest of the show is nothing more than Tenderina and her odd crew musing back and forth about the meaning of Love, or Innocence, or...oh, forget it, I honestly have no idea what they were talking about.

Per Loueva Smith's synopsis from the program:

In the first scene, she walks on fire seeking an explosion that will free her. At her trial in the second scene, she must rescue the innocence of her heart. In the third scene she balances with her lover between a hole created by tragedy and what can be found to fill it.

Here's what I did understand: Every character, including a witchlike one-eyed voyeur, lavishes saccharine praise upon Tenderina, saying that she's the prettiest, best stripper/dancer ever. But we hardly ever see her dance (or strip, for that matter, which was surprising since the show gloated about its NSFW nudity, of which there was none). From the brief dance poses Tenderina tries to execute, it's clear that the part wasn't cast to a ballerina, but that doesn't stop the show from trying to convince you otherwise.

And then there's Tim, a creepy strip-club lurker who's also enamored of Tenderina's unproven dancing abilities. He carries around a prosthetic limb for the entire show, which he once stole from a one-legged stripper. But somehow he's still let back into the club, and no one ever asks for the leg! I'm pretty sure his sole purpose is to be a jerk to Tenderina and make her feel bad about hustlin' on a platform, and I'm fairly positive that the man's possession of this lady's leg was some sort of commentary on the male gaze in postmodern society, but the one thing I'm totally sure of is that the dude has a fetish.

The script of Tenderina is nine parts poetry and one part plot. That makes it hard to follow, but with powerful language, a play can hold its own. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case here. The play tried to hit a note of existential angst, but ended up sounding whiny and hollow.

In between scenes, a handful of dancers regaled the audience with amateurish routines. For a show supposedly about dancing, none of it is very impressive, and no one on stage earned the title "stripper." One of the pieces held its own, though: "Motherless Child" was particularly haunting and well choreographed. The saving grace of the show was the last number, where an aerialist danced up and down two suspended strips of fabric to French song "J'Arrive." More! I silently prayed. But then the credits rolled, and I felt confused and cheated by all the striptease-teases I'd been promised.

On the back of the program, there's a plea for donations: "KEEP OUR DANCERS OFF THE POLE!" it reads. From what I saw of Tenderina, in which there was neither coherence nor a pole, there's not much risk of pole-dancing any time soon.

Tenderina runs through December 17 at Frenetic Theater, 5102 Navigation Blvd. For tickets, visit www.freneticore.net.

Location Info



Freneticore Theater

5102 Navigation, Houston, TX

Category: General

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Dr Snake
Dr Snake

Let me say this about that: the stripper "metaphor" was, in fact, a cheat--as was the Adult warning. There was nothing in the play--which I rather liked, about the sex trade. So questioning the intent of the author is a fair point. I do think the dances were overall quite lovely. But again, nothing especially pointing towards stripping outside of the random tarty costume.


Upset because there were no real strippers, stripper poles, or nudity?

Dr Snake
Dr Snake

In a play about a stripper, that touts nudity in its program, the absence thereof is a fair criticism. Hell, I liked the play--and especially the dances, but I thought it was a bit of a cheat.


I saw this show, and I feel like the reviewer is off base on a couple of things. First of all, the show isn't about a ballerina who becomes a stripper. Just the opposite in fact. That is a pretty important point to understanding the plot. The show is drenched in metaphor. Even the dances are metaphor. The reviewer is correct in saying that it is a challenging script and that there are no real stripteases or big ballet numbers. Don't go if you're looking for those things.If you are interested in the show, I recommend checking out this interview I heard on kuha.fm http://www.thefrontrow.org/art... is a really good synopsis of what you get in the show. It really is an interesting show, just know what you're going in for.

Dr Snake
Dr Snake

That's all well and good, but the evidence still needs to be on the stage. As some of my writers friends say "It's a metaphor. No, it's a simile." But whatever shape the image takes, it still needs to show up. Especially at 20 bucks a pop.


Hmm, if you were just looking for tits and ass you probably should have gone to a real strip club, not a theater where art happens.  And if you wanted a linear plot maybe you should have watched Showgirls or some other lame attempt at a stripper narrative.

Dr Snake
Dr Snake

reply 2: and if Hair, Oh Calcutta and Equus proves a point, nudity and art can be manifested together.

Dr Snake
Dr Snake

Sorry but it's a fair criticism. There was a warning about nudity. (Oh my) and none was seen, save some verrrrry silhouetted booties.

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