THAT’S what makes her an Icon by Olivia Lilley
In ‘THAT’s what makes her an Icon’ there’s a bunch of disappointment. This is known as ‘growing up’. None of the people in the play appear to be happy. Rather they have holding patterns. Each one sort of circles around what they are supposed to do or not do. Hopes are brought up over and over again. Occasionally these are teased for a little bit. People hook up. For millions of twenty-somethings hooking up and hope is all that can be managed. Everything else is so far away.
Young bastions are shown throughout the country. Whether it is New York, Chicago, Atlanta or the Bay Area, these areas attract talent. The problem is whether or not the talent can meet its full potential. Generally it doesn’t. Olivia’s unfortunate characters try really hard to make it right. They listen to a lot of music. In fact one of the strains that draw all of these characters together is the love of music. It is in the background, whether punk or rap or something in between (though punk beats out Billy Joel any day of the goddamn week). Wherever they are music is the thing that pulls the people closer together whether in a physical sense (like in Chicago) or simply having it as a low-intensity background (like with Roar’s work in Atlanta, with the constant singing and performing).
The discussions are virtually absurd. Yet this is how people talk. Most conversations deal with the everlasting pop culture. For these artists (because they all are artists in their own way) the pervasive pop culture is unavoidable. Occasionally if they are successful enough they can elude it, like Craig does with his copy of Yeats. Sometimes they hate it. ‘Vogue’ Madonna’s big thing bothers two particular characters. Other characters are bothered by being a part of this massive machine, with over two hundred million votes like in Roar versus Avril.
Legacies loom over some of these characters. Others try to create legacies. Ian and Dave both know exactly how unlikely it is that either of them will have a legacy. Dave says as much while he watches as an old man performs on stage. William wants to be left alone about it. All William wants is to have his private past kept private. Whenever anybody brings it up he appears to get a tad bit uncomfortable.
Relationships are the saddest things about growing older. Here people see themselves getting pulled away. Some make it. Most don’t. They exist to comfort one another. They hug one another. All they want is a tiny sliver to show they succeeded in a small fashion. Many of them hope for something better but get sidetracked. One of them literally is sidetracked when their van breaks down and they are forced to settle down. Meanwhile others try to take advantage of a good thing, or grow crazy when that good thing never happens.
‘THAT’s what makes her an Icon’ is about youth. The youth are doomed. Yet it never feels hopeless for Lilley’s characters. Optimism for the future shines through and by the end of the play it feels earned. Characters make it not by what happens but by how they deal with it. And that’s as honest as it gets.