Empowering women with karate is Rake Theater & the Movement's mission in "Blessings." The production asked women in videotaped interviews about the last time they felt strong. The videos were showcased on a black, brick wall -- and were difficult to watch without a screen. (The Green venue had a screen but it appeared to be too small for the projection.) The amateurish videos also had a lot of background noise.
The production improved with the karate action. A karate student in martial-arts garb chopped wood in half with his bare hands but no kicks, sparring or other moves were featured. Three women are the main voices throughout the show and express their accomplishments and challenges with martial arts; they also explain the meaning of the different colored karate belts and how the craft can be a painful but meaningful journey.
One woman explained how karate mended her broken heart and helped rebuild her confidence. She also discussed her bruises and how she felt enlightened by her advancements in karate.
The storyline took a quick turn to focus on a Brooklyn karate instructor named Rose and showed parts of her life in video clips. The video illustrated a woman who divorced her husband and opened a karate studio -- but the story left you hanging. The karate instructor on stage was never introduced, leaving me wondering if she was Rose.
Strength is expressed with karate, but the concept isn't explained completely in this hard-to-follow show. "Blessings" has many ideas but goes in too many directions, leaving the audience with more questions than strength.
50 minutes, Green Venue, $8, Orlando Fringe Festival official page.
• Saturday 19 May; at 3:00pm in the Green
• Sunday 20 May; at 1:15pm in the Green
• Saturday 26 May; at 11:30am in the Green