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When It's You
There is no way to tell you how I feel. Jason's photo is in my book. It was his gun. He had it for safety, to keep robbers or cousins or whatever at bay or whatever people who have guns keep them for. This is Dallas. Texas.—Ginnifer
Ana Reeder (Photo Carol Rosegg)
In Courtney Baron's new play, When It's You, the you in question has Ginnifer (Ana Reeder), a 37-year-old single woman living in Dallas try to find meaning in a horrendous crime. It's a crime committed by her former high school boyfriend.

Because Jason, killed himself after shooting eleven people (killing three), and she hasn't communicated much with him since their breakup at the end of senior year, she can't shed much light on his motivation. Instead we learn all about her life, from awkward adolescent to lonely adult.

The play, developed at the Keen Playwright's Lab, is directed by Keen artistic director Jonathan Silverstein. It is a barebones production with Reeder standing on a stage that is empty but for a box on a chair and occasional projections on the back wall.

The box contains the show's one prop, a Cabbage Patch Kids doll Ginnifer promised to take care of forever when she got it at age ten. It appears to be the only thing she has left to love since her mother died of cancer a while back.

Ginnifer tells us about other boyfriends, one in particular who dumped her because she wasn't particularly adept in sex. She recalls a meeting with former high school friends she never wants to see again. She describes in excruciating detail her mother's death and her brother's indifference. She even chronicles her meeting with the dead boy's mother.

Reeder is a skilled performer. She is so well rehearsed that she sounds totally spontaneous. She gives her character infinite texture and subtle nuance. But this is not enough to keep the play from becoming a victim of its confessional nature.

After the first half hour, we have learned all we really need to know about Ginnifer's guilt and shock. Should she have known? Could she have known? These are not surprising questions coming from one who has been close to someone who turns into a monster.

However, it's not clear why Ginnifer should have been so affected by Jason's crime. After all, she only went out with him for six or seven months. During that time they "kissed," "made out" and may have gotten to "third base." But clearly there were no home runs here. In fact, Ginnifer can't seem to make up her mind whether or not she loved Jason. So what's the big deal?

By the end of When It's You, many may feel as if they've somehow stumbled into a therapy session from which there is no exit until the patient has her say. It's certainly a pleasure watching Reeder ply her trade. But one wishes she were dealing with better raw material.

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When It's You by Courtney Baron
Directed by Jonathan Silverstein
Performed by Ana Ana Reeder
Scenic design: Steven Kemp
Costume Design: Jennifer Paar
Lighting Design: Josh Bradford
Sound Design: Bart Fasbender
Running Time: 70 minutes
Keen Company at The Clurman Theatre 410 West 42nd Street 212/239-6200
From 2/28/17; opening 3/19/17; closing 4/08/17
Tuesday through Thursday evenings at 7pm; Fridays at 8pm; Saturdays at 2pm & 8pm; and Sunday matinees at 3pm
Tickets: $65
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons March 22, 2017

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