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A CurtainUp New Jersey Review
Nobody's Girl

Currah - Just so you know I'm serious - I showed a publisher friend your manuscript- he loved it- I knew he would- - - And here's the contract that I negotiated for your first book to be called Nobody's Girl. — Ronnie

Photo: Jacob A. Ware and Layla Khoshnoudi (photo credit: SuzAnne Barabas)
Seriously hinged in the way it veers from melodramatic excess into the blackest comedy, Australian writer Rick Viede play Nobody's Girl nevertheless had me in its severely schizophrenic grip. Apparently re-written for the U.S., to change the play's lead character from an Australian Aborigine to an Iranian Muslim woman, it revolves around the attempt by Anthony Donnally (Jacob A. Ware) a social worker with aspirations of being a successful published writer to pass off as truth a fictitious memoir he has written pretending to be the young woman Nita Saleem/Currah (Layla Khoshnoudi) whose case he had been assigned.

To give heft and a sensational aspect to Nita's rather traditional immigration story, he fabricates one with her approval with the promise of money and fame. In it, she describes her experiences of being sexually abused by her father in the basement of their Midwestern home. The catch is that the story containing details of her sexual bondage is not only being peddled as a personal memoir but the shocking confession that she enjoyed the humiliation and subjugation.

Ant (as he weirdly likes to call himself) believes he can pass himself off as her mentor and protector while he peddles the horrific details and fake revelations. The sheer perversity of her highly graphic story and the guiltless gall of the otherwise meek and unassuming writer is a bit hard to swallow. Abetted by director Erica Gould, the playwright has done what he can to make the most repellent aspects of the scam amusing and shocking. This keeps us off balance and off guard with regard to the moral and ethical boundaries that are being crossed and exploited. Some may find that the plethora of four letter expletives in the text inflict unnecessary padding to a play that takes more than two hours to unravel.

Unsurprisingly, Ant — like Svengali— harbors a crush on his at first insecure Trilby-like subject. Expectedly, they get the attention of Ronnie Lowe (Judith Hawking) a motor-mouthed, ruthless literary agent and Tyrell (Gregory Haney) her preening/posturing, homosexual sidekick photographer. Their efforts create a public frenzy and a media stir and end up with a best seller.

I'll give the playwright credit for his consideration of how easily fiction can be passed off to the public as fact. However, there are holes in the plot: the presumption that background checks by investigators and the media don't expose the perpetrators right away, or how long it takes for the fiercely hyper Ronnie and the flagrantly volatile Tyrell to realize they are being duped. In contrast, Ware evolves neurotically from being in-over-his-head to simply being out of it. This, while Khoshnoudi, who rides the tide smoothly from innocence to sophistication. Some may find this play, with nicely fluid settings by Jessica Parks, an unwieldy confluence of disparate dramatic and performance styles, but I rather liked the convergence of the credible with the preposterous.

Nobody's Girl By Rick Viede
Directed by Erica Gould

Cast: Gregory Haney (Tyrell Parks), Judith Hawking (Ronnie Lowe), Layla Khoshnoudi (Nita Saleem/Currah), Jacob A. Ware (Anthony Donnally)
Stage Manager: Jennifer Tardibuono
Scenic Design: Jessica Parks
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Sound Design: Merek Royce Press
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Running Time: Two hours 15 minutes with intermission
New Jersey Repertory Company, 179 Broadway, Long Branch, NJ
(732) 229 - 3166
Tickets: $45.00
Performances: Thurs. & Fri. at 8 pm; Sat. 3 & 8 pm; Sun. at 2 pm. or
From 08/20/15 Opened 08/22/15 Ends 09/20/15
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 08/23/15
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