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  • Writer's pictureFrank Schierloh

FRINGE REVIEW: She Was a Conquistawhore. (Rachel O'Hanlon Rodriguez and Pardners)

Gather Round for a Funny One Person, One Vagina Show about Sexual Growth and Development.

The Philadelphia Fringe Festival is a wonderful hub of creative development and experimentation. There are no topics that seem off limits, and no show concepts that feel out of place. A wonderful embodiment of this is the hilarious She Was a Conquistawhore that is playing in the outdoor garden at the Maas Building as part of both The Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the Cannonball Theatre Festival. Conquistahore is a show that says a lot in a short amount of time, and delivers some hysterical moments of theatrical absurdity.

Rachel O'Hanlon Rodriguez in a promo shot for She Was a Conquistawhore.
Rachel O'Hanlon Rodriguez in a promo shot for She Was a Conquistawhore. Photo by Rosie Simmons.

There's a WHAT in this Show?

Conquiatawhore is a one person show led by O'Hanlon-Rodriguez who pulls double duty playing herself and the personification of her vagina: Pete the Pussy. Pete is a cowboy, uses he/him pronouns and wants Rachel to have a healthy relationship with sex. Crafting this outlandish version of her vagina is both hilarious and heartfelt. Utilizing the cowboy stereotypes and re-framing them to fit her narrative is a brilliant choice, and one that O'Hanlon-Rodriguez comments about within the confines of the show. The show tackles a great deal of emotional thoughts and stories, focusing around gender and sex/sexuality. It handles them all with a care, nuance, and humor that is wonderful to experience. The production breezes by at a short 45 minute runtime, and while that generally works to the shows advantage, there are a few moments that felt slightly rushed, and could've benefited from just a touch more room to breathe.

O'Hanlon-Rodriguez is a captivating performer to watch. Her stage presence feels effortless, and she is able to navigate the complex (and extremely personal) emotions of the piece wonderfully. She also really knows how to work and engage with a crowd, balancing the tricky task of audience interaction with a wonderful grace. She knows how to play all the different levels of the story she is telling, at times making the show feel like an intimate story around a campfire, then at others like it's filling up a large theatre space. It's compelling and thrilling to watch a performer with this much grasp on the material that it feels effortless for them.

Rachel O'Hanlon Rodriguez in a promo shot for She Was a Conquistawhore.
Rachel O'Hanlon Rodriguez in a promo shot for She Was a Conquistawhore.. Photo by Rosie Simmons.

Giddy Up, Pardners!

The fact that this production is being staged outdoors, in the garden of the Maas Building is truly an inspired choice. It's a show that needs to be experienced around nature, as it parallels all the conversations within the piece about human nature. She was a Conquistawhore is a hilarious examination of our relationships with our bodies, as well as the pressures of gender on the human psyche. It tackles these extremely difficult concepts with a wit and humor that is wonderful to experience, all the while showcasing an extremely talented performer. The show becomes irresistible to enjoy, and will have you singing along with all the cowboy ranch songs thrown in.

Side note: The night I was there, there was a bonfire happening, so I left the show smelling of a bonfire, which is the perfect introduction to fall.

A cartoon with links to tickets

She Was a Conqustawhore is playing as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and the Cannonball Theatre Festival from now until September 28th, 2023.

Performances are held at the garden of the Maas Building. (1320 N 5th Street.)

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