On a crisp Friday afternoon, Alexa Elmy knelt in an intimately barren rehearsal room at the Drama League. Her arms unfurled from her chest as she arched her head back like a bird about to take flight. She paused, expression pensive, and closed her eyes. The stillness of her position, the tranquility of it, built until you could hear the silence in the room. She stood up slowly with her hands pressed against her heart.
If the above description sounds like a prayer, it is… in a sense. But Elmy is not praying to a God, she is channeling a far greater power: Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Alexa.
Tonight (October 31), Elmy will debut at Theatre Row, her most high-profile work yet, a one-woman show she has written and stars in. Alexa, Play is a one-act romp about a woman named Alexa who forms a support group for other aggrieved women with the same name to vent their frustrations and act against the Amazon device that’s stolen their name.
Alexa the character and Alexa the writer have heard all of the Amazon Alexa jokes before. Throughout the show, audience members serve as the other Alexas and sympathetic allies, invited to come up with some of their quips as part of what the character defines as a “healing experience”.
When they arrive at the theater, audience members receive a flyer with a list of steps to progress as a “member” of the support group, Alexas Anonymous — inspired by the 12 Step Program. The first two steps: admit you’re powerless over the Amazon Alexa, and submit yourself to feminism as the only way to restore your sanity.
“Sane” is not the first word Elmy would use to describe Alexa the character. With her signature power outfit and a serious, almost manic tendency to overshare, Alexa’s vibe aligns more with an over-caffeinated SoulCycle instructor than an organized labor leader. In the second group meeting of the play, Alexa proudly announces to the attendees: “To truly believe in the restorative power of feminism, we need to give ourselves over to it… here’s what I’ve come up with: group booty shake.”
That fun sorority president energy can also frequently cross the line into deep-seated expressions of aggression and rage. Alexa talks over members of the support group, she vents when she is supposed to listen — at times, she even breaks things.
More Arts + Entertainment News
Emma Shafer, the director of the show, said Alexa’s simmering anger was one of the things that initially piqued her interest.
“I love seeing women get to be angry… I think anger is a hard feeling to sit with as a woman, at least from my experience, because you’re not supposed to be angry. And this play feels like it gets to be so loud, and expansive, and energetic,” Shafer said.
For Elmy, writing the script was an outlet for her to vent some frustrations of her own as a long-suffering Alexa and a feminist.
“Alexa is a very common name… we’ve just turned [a woman’s name] into an object that we get to order around,” Elmy said.
“I hope this play will help people take a look at these types of objects in their everyday lives like that stupid Echo and ask: why have we allowed that to happen? Does it have to be like this?”
Alexa, Play premieres for two nights on October 31 at 7pm and November 8 at 8:30pm as part of the United Solo Festival at Theatre Row.