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|A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
Boy Gets Girls
By Laura Hitchcock
They meet cute and they are cute, journalist Theresa (Nancy Travis) and tall, dark, handsome Tony (Mark Deakins), fixed up by a mutual acquaintance, sizing each other up over an after-work drink She's burying herself in work in her beloved New York to get over the boyfriend who moved to Kuala Lumpur. He's new in town, lonely and looking. It could be an out take from Friends until Theresa, who's much too smart for Tony and not as nice on the surface, tries to break it off after the first dinner date and finds she's the Girl Who Can't Get Away. (See New York review) . But playwright Rebecca Gilman has more on her mind than a stalker thriller. Almost too much, sometimes. One of her most delightful inventions, porn movie maker Les Kennkat, nearly overbalances the show, especially in the hands of James Farentino, whose flair for macho comedy is worth the price of admission all by itself.
Director Randall Arney worked with Gilman on expanding the play from the original production and the published version which was cut to improve momentum, according to Arney. The director's pace is excellent and he listens to his characters.
Gilman examines the sexual objectivication of women and the inability of law enforcement to really protect them from stalkers but she's so good at character that character has become what the play is about in a million little ways. Deakins' Tony is so shy and boyish that the viewers' sympathies easily lie with him until the moment when Theresa tells him off and his eyes flash with a truly murderous rage.
Nancy Travis's Theresa is not likeable but she's very real. She makes Theresa a tough, humorless, drably dressed workaholic in a magazine office where she doesn't even know if her colleagues Howard (Charles Janasz) and Mercer (Taylor Nichols) are married.
Janasz brings a quirky charm to Howard and the attractive Nichols adds ballast to Mercer. Julie Ann Emery portrays the ditzy 21-year-old secretary Harriet as a nine-year-old playing vamp. She's obviously talented but it's an over-the-top characterization. Monnae Michaell deals out her devastating recommendations with bone deep empathy.
Andrew Jackness created a remarkable array of deft set changes in brief blackouts between scenes. Richard Woodbury's stunning sound and music design reflect the play's chilling surprises.
It becomes obvious that this play isn't catgory genre, as the cast are changed by Theresa's dilemma. The play doesn't end so much as stops. Gilman doesn't play by the rules any more than Tony does. If this were a movie, you'd be thinking Sequel Money"but it isn't. Though Gilman's open ending may be frustrating, it sends the play and its dilemmas home from the theatre with you.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
Somewhere For Me, a Biography of Richard Rodgers
The New York Times Book of Broadway: On the Aisle for the Unforgettable Plays of the Last Century
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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