THE BASICS: This “romance” by Neil Labute (FAT PIG, THE SHAPE OF THINGS, NURSE BETTY, IN THE COMPANY OF MEN), master of the dark perspective, is receiving its local premiere courtesy of the new Second Generation Theatre Company (SGT). Directed by Steve Copps, it plays weekends through Feb 16th at the New Phoenix Theatre. The show, presented as sequential scenes, runs about one hour and forty five minutes. There is no intermission.
THUMBNAIL SKETCH: The action takes place in 2006, in a series of same-chain hotel rooms scattered throughout the country. The protagonist, Guy, a thirty-something English prof who has just had a whiff of literary acclaim, travels around the country on the brink of his own impending marriage, revisiting “major” old girlfriends. Ostensibly, this to repair any lingering bad karma–an ill-conceived peace offering to some nice women he jilted along the way. But is it? Things are never quite as they seem with playwright Labute, one of America’s edgiest and most interesting writers.
THE PLAY, THE PLAYERS AND THE PRODUCTION: Despite its name, and the fact that its cast is 80% female, SOME GIRL(S) is actually a character study of the one male figure, Guy. The jilted ladies are all somewhat interesting, but they exist primarily to shed light upon the protagonist. Intellectual, egocentric, ambitious, vain, libidinous, commitment-phobic, and a world class rationalizer, Guy harbors guilt, but is able to con himself sufficiently to prevent self-loathing. That Adriano Gatto is unable to bring this richly layered character fully and convincingly to life is the one real fault of the production. The jilted women all do pretty well. Diane Di Bernardo Blenk is a particular standout as Lindsay, the compromised mistress, whose sleekness and composure cannot mask her seething anger. Bobbi, Guy’s college sweetheart and conceivably his one “true” love, is, I think, the least convincing portrait. Fault Labute here, however, and not Kristin Bentley, who gives this curious character her best shot.
Steve Copps provides serviceable direction. There is no standing-around-like-statues in this one, as there is at the Wilde play over at the ICTC. The talk occasionally rises to searing heights, and there are some small but effective physical moments that serve as punctuation. Loraine O’Donnell has provided a nicely appointed hotel room set, which converts itself slightly from scene to scene with a minimum of hassle.
IN SUM: A pretty good production of an intriguing play, this is one strange little valentine from the new SGT. Labute fans (count me in) will not want to miss it.
I’m giving Some Girl(s) the following rating:
*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)
ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.
TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.
THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.
FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.
FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!