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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    “‘Some Girl(s)’ is sexy, cynical late night theater”

    In The Now Theatre’s production of Neil LaBute’s “”Some Girl(s),”” the young company proves that eager acting and sparse staging can be the best way to reveal both the crass hypocrisy and the painful injustice that characterize both love and life today. If you’ve ever been — or been burned by — a charming opportunist, you will relate to this delicate, deliberate production.

    LaBute’s story follows young writer Guy, played by theater arts senior John Shartzer, as he visits the most meaningful of his old girlfriends before he finally marries. As the characters note in the one-act, Guy is not a great guy, but, hey, at least he knows it. As Guy slides and swerves his way around every situation the audience witnesses and the characters discuss, one can’t help but enjoy it when these ladies make the slimy guy squirm.

    Sam, played by senior Lauren Orlowski, was the first love. As much as Guy tries to cut Sam down for being the small-town girl who settled, Orlowski’s Sam is cleverer than that. She seems to know that she would rather be married to a Safeway store manager who loves and cares for her than a smug, lying, flighty man-boy like Guy. Sam’s struggle is touching and relatable as she tells Guy why she thinks he asked her to meet. “”You think you’re over it and it’s still all right there, you know?”” she asks softly. With Orlowski’s finely wrought performance, we do know.

    Guy’s next former-lover encounter is with the brash and brassy Tyler, played by junior Danielle Hecht. The scene between Guy and Tyler is the most playful of the work, with Guy battling humorously with his attraction to the beautiful Tyler and a smoking scene sexy enough to set back 20 years of anti-tobacco ads. “”You want some blow-back?”” Hecht croons, and the line is so apropos: all LaBute allows his characters is a breathy wisp of the love or truth they seek. Hecht makes a lovely Tyler; it takes pluck to make a slutty, druggy jewelry artist endearing. She’s bold, sexual and determined — determined to never let Guy know how much he hurt her.

    Senior Holly Marie Carlson is fierce, bitter and admirably blunt as Lindsay, a married older woman. She was hurt, and she’s not afraid to let Guy know — and make him pay. Though Carlson physically looks not a day older than Shartzer, she imbues her performance with authority and oddly naïve world-weariness that make for a believable character in age and bearing. This is where LaBute’s writing of a female character falters, however; it is difficult to believe that the smart, confident Lindsay would be so vindictive and sadistic. The play’s view of women is slightly more favorable than of men, but not by much: LaBute builds women up only by having them tear men and other women down.

    The last “”girl”” Guy visits is the fresh, funny Bobbi, played by expressive and effervescent senior Chelsea Bowdren. She plays Bobbi with big humor and a big heart, which only makes the starkness of Guy’s selfishness appear that much more unkindly. Guy’s last speech to her and her reaction might be the most poignant moment of the production, and Bowdren plays it with delicacy, in contrast to her earlier big emotions and bigger smile.

    LaBute cuts his protagonist no slack to speak of, but Shartzer wields the role with impressive grace. It is easy to imagine why the women he visits don’t remember him fondly, but there is enough charm in the performance to also see why they fell for Guy. While one sincerely hopes Guy is not an everyman, Shartzer plays even the more contemptible aspects of the character with just enough smooth magnetism to keep the audience from outright hating the guy. Here’s hoping Shartzer has not been doing any Method acting for this role — he plays the manipulative, self-serving, near-masochistic Guy so convincingly it’s unnerving. Even as you’re clapping for the solid performance, you’re not sure whether you want to spit in his face or see if he’d like to go out for drinks.

    Every piece of the performance, from the clack of the girls’ heels on the stage floor to the effeminate pillows on the anonymous hotel set, feel endearingly eager, and the revelatory last scene is no exception. In its smooth, sure refusal to apologize for the truth it displays, the scene serves as synecdoche for the rest of the play and, LaBute seems to be saying, society at large.

    If there is a flaw in this determined production, it is not the fresh acting, deliberate production, or ambitious subject matter — it is that LaBute seems to hate his character even more than the women his character spurned. 

     

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