Volume 76, Number 6 | June 28 - July 4 2006

Photo by Joan Marcus

Clockwise from above left, Judy Reyes, Maura Tierney, Brooke Smith and Fran Drescher, stand up to the heartless Eric McCormack in “Some Girl(s).”

In ‘Some Girl(s),’ women win battle of sexes

By Scott Harrah

Eric McCormack spent nearly a decade playing the lovable lawyer Will Truman on “Will & Grace,” a groundbreaking TV sitcom that was hugely successful and also was one of the first to feature openly gay male characters. In Neil LaBute’s “Some Girl(s),” McCormack’s character Guy is a far cry from the happy-go-lucky homosexual Will. McCormack’s Guy is straight, self-indulgent, less than endearing, and certainly no girl’s best friend. Guy is the proverbial “player,” a writer in his late 30s who has far too many ex-girlfriends but has finally decided to settle down and marry a nursing student who is several years younger than him. Regardless of how unlikable Guy may be, McCormack plays him with conviction, passion and veracity.

The plot focuses on Guy trying to make amends with four former lovers in Seattle, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles, and all the action takes place in hotel rooms, with the housekeeping staff cleaning up each “room” between scenes and rearranging furniture to indicate that the action is moving to a different city. Neil Patel’s trendy sets accurately convey the sense of sparse homogenization seen in American hotel chains, mirroring the barren emotional state of the characters onstage.

Guy is the stereotypical heterosexual who’s afraid of commitment — how else to explain why he “dumped” each gorgeous, complex and intelligent woman from his past? Although he claims he is on a whistle-stop emotional journey to set things straight with each ex before marrying his fiancée back in New York, we soon learn that he is only interested in exploiting the ladies once more. Each vignette features a woman who has been deeply hurt by Guy. In Seattle, Sam (Brooke Smith) is a housewife who was devastated 20 years earlier when, after a two-year relationship in high school, Guy took another girl to a prom at a different school. When we get to Chicago, we meet the beautiful artist Tyler, who is still single and still carries a sexual torch for Guy.

The final scenes, in Boston and Los Angeles, are perhaps the most powerful, and expose Guy as a coldhearted lowlife with no regard for the feelings of the women he spurned. The marvelous Fran Drescher (sounding nothing like the nasal-voiced, outrageous Fran Fine on “The Nanny”) gives an incandescent performance as Lindsay, a married college professor who got into hot water with her husband when she had a fling with Guy when he was a fledgling English professor and they both worked together on the same campus. She is dead set on getting psychological revenge against Guy as she carries out a clever sexual ploy that teaches him a lesson he won’t soon forget. Maura Tierney is equally dynamic as Bobbi, a tough-as-nails Los Angeles doctor who has a sister that Guy also once dated. Bobbi, who calls her ex an “emotional terrorist,” also finds a way to get back at Guy by playing a cruel trick on him, but she is completely outraged when she soon discovers the real reason why he has been flying all over the country to meet one last time with his former flames.

In essence, “Some Girl(s)” lays bare the selfishness, inconsiderate motives and moral bankruptcy of the womanizing male. LaBute’s seriocomic one act speaks volumes about men for whom hurt is, as one character eloquently puts it, a “number-one byproduct.” What sets the story apart from typical tales of philanderers is the fact that these strong-willed women are portrayed as empowered protagonists rather than victims. In this riveting, hilarious and ultimately liberating dark comedy of male vs. female, you’ll find yourself rooting for these women in each scene as they successfully seek their comeuppance against a man who seems incapable of treating women as anything more than expendable conquests. Stories about the battle between the sexes are nothing new, but LaBute’s trenchant dialogue and the play’s remarkable ensemble cast simply shine, and create an evening of thoroughly enjoyable and thought-provoking theater.

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