WARRIOR QUEENS, Footsteps Theatre Company. In a program note, director Sandy Borglum says that one of the goals of Warrior Queens is for us “to meet some forgotten, kick-ass women.” One assumes she’s playing fast and loose with her phraseology: at least three of the women featured in this historical collage–Margaret Thatcher, Catherine the Great, and Geraldine Ferraro–are far from forgotten. And though she brings to the stage many lesser-known ass kickers (like India’s Rani Lakshmibai, Britain’s Boadicea, and Vietnam’s Trung sisters), she never allows us to “meet” any of them. Instead we get two-sentence introductions full of broad generalizations (“Zenobia interfered with Rome’s trade routes”), then a lot of stylized movement and hollow poetic declarations that typically degenerate into halfhearted stage combat.

It’s never clear what motivates any of these historical figures as they parade about with inflated chests, speaking in orotund voices and sporting colorful headgear. Since the political or cultural forces these women fought against are only vaguely dramatized, their supposed heroism rarely rises above the level of a fistfight. To make matters worse, these ponderous historical vignettes are treated like exercise routines in an ongoing aerobics class, resulting in nonsense like “Tomyris is a really good warrior queen for shaping up your butt.” If Borglum truly wants to bring history to life, she needs to return to the basics of storytelling. –Justin Hayford