Estrogen Fest, Aardvark, at Angel Island. “Estrogen Fest” will entertain everyone, not just audience members initiated into the double-X-chromosome club. Sure, the three short plays refer to Gloria Steinem and Baywatch and address the issues of women’s self-image, rape, and eating disorders, but they generally avoid feminist polemics. Director Ann Filmer’s choices reveal a side of women not often portrayed this fairly–she gives the characters’ edgy, self-absorbed, neurotic aspects depth rather than merely treating them as a springboard for humor.

Frederick Stroppel’s The Mamet Women depicts two women haggling over Tupperware and a baby-sitting arrangement; Laurie Larson and Candis Hacker play their characters to the hilt, illuminating the harsh but hilarious reality of this so-called friendship. In Catherine Butterfield’s No Problem a controlling businesswoman who’s repressed previous moments of weakness steamrolls over the anxieties of Paula, a link to her own past; Amy Dunlap as the meticulous control freak and Heather Graff as the overwhelmed, unassertive Paula make the contrasts between their characters palpable in the first minute, and the audience eats up the painfully funny moments that follow. Madeleine George’s The Most Massive Woman Wins brings all four actresses together in a scene at a liposuction clinic, and the Aardvark company’s talented cast and Filmer’s directorial wit make this piece a darkly comic, disturbing finale. –Jenn Goddu