SOME GIRL(S) Written and Directed by Neil LaButeBy admin | May 30th, 2011 | Category: 2008, Entertainment, Spring 2008 | No Comments »
Written and Directed by Neil LaBute
Neil LaBute writes mean men. Mean, but fascinating. I became a fan of Neil’s after seeing his first film, The Company of Men, which was both riveting and revolting at the same time. Riveting because the story, dialogue, and craft were so exceptional; revolting because the male characters were such bastards.
In LaBute’s West Coast Premiere of Some Girl(s) at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at the Geffen Playhouse, the hero is yet another cad. This time we don’t get to know the lead character, Guy, all that well. Instead, it’s his numerous ex-girlfriends that bring the story and emotions to the surface. Guy visits his four exes in hotel rooms in four different cities where they each still live: Seattle, Chicago, Boston, and Los Angeles. Sam, Tyler, Lindsay, and Bobbi are the four women Guy dumped─all without explanation. Now, years later, just before he’s about to get married, Guy, a successful New York writer, returns to see each of them, purportedly to “make amends.”
Each woman represents a different stage of his life: Sam, the now-married-with-children ex-high school sweetheart; Tyler, the wild child of his college years who joined him in casual sex, fun, and drugs; Lindsay, a married college professor whowas cheating with him on her husband; and Bobbi, the grad school honey he was unable to commit to, even though she was the love of his life─and probably the girl he should have married.
The playwright has a flair for smart, pithy dialog, and Guy works his considerable linguistic skills, rekindling affairs of the past with each woman. Opening the emotional baggage of each relationship is an awesome task, well accomplished. However, it sort of leaves us wondering what these women ever saw in this jerk to begin with, and wondering why they would show up years later to see him again. The obvious reason is that these women are as needy as Guy. LaBute recognizes, with perfect accuracy, that while Guy is superficial and an opportunist, the women attracted to him are weak and still hurting after all this time. They’ve come to see him with a curious chip on their shoulder, and to get closure for their pain from so long ago. They want to feel better after his betrayal─even though years have passed and they’ve moved on. Or maybe not. There is a twist at the end, which seals the deal that Guy is not just seeking redemption; he’s carrying on the tradition of a perverse guy with warped interpersonal dynamics and selfish gain as his main motivations.
Will he return to his New York fiancée, ten years his junior, and actually marry her? I don’t think so. But maybe that’s another play.
LaBute likes his actors, and has written a formidable vehicle to display their talents. The hardest working is Mark Feuerstein, whose edginess is palpable throughout, as he expertly manipulates each of his former lovers with skill and guile. Rosalind Chao, Paula Cale Lisbe, Justina Machado and Jaime Ray Newman give stellar performances as the women, each dealing with Guy in fully believable ways as their emotions unwind and unravel.
Contributing to the overall enjoyment of the play was the intimacy of the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater at The Geffen. The audience becomes almost part of the story, as if sitting on the edge of the bed listening to a friend tell their tale of alienation and loneliness. And how guys, both then and now, can be just plain mean. Both women and men in the audience are able to relate─but hopefully they will return to their homes showing genuine love and tenderness to their mates. Geez, who am I kidding? It’s the proverbial battle of the sexes: Mars and Venus, or Him versus Her. Some Girl(s)brings up lots of familiar issues, questions, and pointed conversation between couples─so don’t expect quiet time on the way home. You’ll be chatting and buzzing all night long. Now, that’s what we call “good theater!”
Geffen Playhouse and Audrey Skirball Kenis Theater
Phone: (310) 208-5454
Thru Sunday, March 16
Tuesday – Thursday: 8:00 pm
Reviewed by Marilyn Anderson