Corrections or additions?
This review by Simon Saltzman was prepared for the March 21, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Off-Broadway: `Boy Gets Girl’
A blind date goes bad — really bad — in Rebecca
Gilman’s unnerving chiller, "Boy Gets Girl." In this
harrowing and disturbing play, as directed with fevered commitment
by the late Michael Maggio, we see how a maniacal stalker victimizes
an attractive, intelligent, successful, and single career woman. Like
Gilman’s equally provocative play about campus political correctness
"Spinning into Butter" (seen last season also at the Manhattan
Theater Club), "Boy Gets Girl" explores what happens when
more or less innocent and well-meaning people can be unwittingly drawn
into a trap that springs and destroys them.
Overworked and currently boyfriendless, Theresa (Mary Beth Fisher),
a top-flight journalist for World Magazine, agrees to a blind date
set in motion by a girl friend. From their first meeting at a
Theresa senses that she and Tony (Ian Lithgow), the seemingly naive,
but not bad looking either young(er) man conversing with her
over a few beers, may not be an ideal match. For starters, he isn’t
very well read (he’s never heard of Edith Wharton) nor much of a
fan (knows next to nothing about the Yankees).
Although Theresa’s New York-sharpened wit shows up Tony’s lack of
sophistication, she discovers, after their second dead-end date, that
she is no match for Tony’s battle-honed methods of pursuit. After
bidding him a quick and relatively kind adieu, she is deluged with
flowers sent daily to her office and a barrage of phone messages left
at her home and at work.
Beginning to worry about Tony’s unrelenting attention,
Theresa’s concern initiates the involvement of Harriet (Shayna Ferm),
her new not-too-swift secretary, Mercer (David Adkins), a staff
who takes an unusual and unsettling interest in male-female
and Howard (Matt DeCaro), her understanding boss. But it is not until
a policewoman (Ora Jones) explains to Theresa the potential for
and worse — the need to change one’s name, workplace and residence
— that we, too, see to what degree Theresa’s life is in jeopardy.
Simple harassment is the least of Theresa’s problems as events begin
to spiral out of control.
An important subplot, in which Theresa interviews Les Kennkat (Howard
Witt), a sleazy, but harmless, producer of soft-core sex films,
another confounding and perplexing element in the way we perceive
the opposite sex. Les’s gross and lowbrow taste and philosophy plays
an important role in advancing the playwright’s concerns about the
true nature of the social interaction and exchanges between male and
female. After Theresa’s apartment is ransacked and she begins to
threats and obscene phone calls, we see to what extent Tony’s
obsession is being realized.
This nerve-tingling drama is more than just a stalker-driven tale,
for it demonstrates how easily another person can infiltrate and
a life. Although all the performances are exemplary and on-target,
Fisher, in particular, brilliantly brings to the fore the desperation
and vulnerability that overtakes and overturns this once confident,
bright, and controlled woman. Not to be dismissed, even though we
don’t see him after the first act, is Lithgow, whose quirky
cover continues to linger ominously over the entire play. Three stars.
— Simon Saltzman
New York, 212-581-1212. $55. To April 8.
The key: Four stars, Don’t miss; Three stars, You won’t feel
cheated; Two stars, Maybe you should have stayed home; One star, Don’t
at 800-432-7250 or 212-239-6200 . Other ticket outlets: Ticket
212-279-4200; Ticketmaster, 800-755-4000.
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