• Bruce Clayton Tom
  • SAMIE SPRING DETZER Bernadette has a secret.

The Edge of Our Bodies is a little bit dangerous, a little bit alarming. At its center is a teenage girl, Bernadette (expertly played by Samie Spring Detzer), begging for someone to witness her life, even though her life is a complete mess.

Adam Rapp doesn't know how to write women, which is a bit disappointing. Bernadette seems to be a caricature of a teenage girl, an unsettling mix of stereotype and guesswork. Rapp has woven a play within the play, using Jean Genet's The Maids to further the conversation about young women and performativity, but it's disconcerting and oddly placed in the structure of the larger story. Detzer does a phenomenal job squeezing the emotion out of her character, and it's ultimately not her fault that her Bernadette is a little distracting, fluctuating between her own tense emotions and the creepy child's play of the sisters from The Maids.

I'm always impressed with the ways the Washington Ensemble Theatre transforms their tiny space. The smell of the wood platform floats through the air as you try to figure out why this young woman is in this tiny, well-appointed room, with its settee, chandelier and gauzy curtains. How did she get here? And where is she going?

It's worthwhile to get to the bottom of the secret in the middle of this play, and Detzer gives a powerful performance. Check it out before it closes this weekend.