Chicago Theater Review: BOY GETS GIRL (Raven Theatre)

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by Sally Jo Osborne on January 23, 2013

in Theater-Chicago

BEST NOT TO SEE THIS PLAY ON A FIRST DATE

The Raven Theatre is celebrating its 30th Anniversary Season with the return of Rebecca Gilman’s Boy Gets Girl, which debuted at the Goodman Theatre in 2000. Much has changed since then in our world: The economy, global revolutions, technological gadgets and the acceptance of gay marriage are evolving with rapidity. Sally Jo Osborne's Stage and Cinema review of Raven Theatre's BOY GETS GIRL in ChicagoOne thing has not changed, however, and that is the alarming quantity of reported stalkers: In the USA alone, an estimated 3.4 million people were reported victims of stalking during a 12-month period in 2005 and 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, with an increase on the horizon now that technology has made it faster and easier for stalkers to observe and hassle their victims.

In Gilman’s stalker drama/thriller, Theresa Bedell (a powerful Kristin Collins) is a successful, thirty-something New York writer whose blind date with a “nice” guy named Tony (John Stokvis) creates unimaginable consequences. During their second date she realizes that Tony isn’t right for her and excuses herself early. But Tony continues to contact her, calling at the office and sending unwanted flowers to the point of being a nuisance.  When he decides to show up unexpectedly at her work place, she confronts him to leave her alone, but that sparks a nerve in him.

Sally Jo Osborne's Stage and Cinema review of Raven Theatre's BOY GETS GIRL in ChicagoTony fades from view after those first few scenes, and even though he only appears midway through the first of two acts (and with just his voice heard in another), he is always a menacing presence. Naturally, Theresa becomes frightened when Tony leaves threatening messages at her home. She confides in coworker Mercer (Jon Stutzman) who insists on calling the police (why does it take a man to figure that out?). A sympathetic Officer Beck (Kristen Williams) investigates with some standard questions and suggests she obtain a restraining order, change her name and move, which only increases the tension because it’s hard to believe those are the only options.

Sally Jo Osborne's Stage and Cinema review of Raven Theatre's BOY GETS GIRL in ChicagoTheresa’s Editor, Howard (Will Casey), who is himself struggling with internal issues, helps by taking her into his home. Casey is a lovable and naturalistic actor; as with many in the cast, there is a sense of recognition: Either you feel as if you know them or if you want to meet them. Even Harriet (Symphony Sanders), who annoyingly (and unknowingly) assists the stalker, makes up for her naiveté by purchasing gifts out of guilt. Then there is the interview subject, Les Kennkat (Leonard Kraft), a 72-year-old movie mogul who some may see as disgusting for his “B” movies involving big breasts, develops a beautiful friendship with Theresa (his role also adds a nice comic touch to the nerve-wracking subject at hand).

Sally Jo Osborne's Stage and Cinema review of Raven Theatre's BOY GETS GIRL in ChicagoThis play also explores gender issues and effectively creates tension because the character of Tony is actually not very creepy. It is an intelligent, thought-provoking script with distinct characters who come together when faced with crisis. Cody Estle’s adroit direction eschews melodrama on Amanda Rozmiarek’s fascinating set, which depicts four distinctly different places on this tiny stage, aided by Claire Chrzan’s atmospheric lighting.

As disquieting as the play is, I would have liked to see more inside the mind of a stalker. And while Theresa certainly hasn’t brought the stalking on herself, she has few close friends, her parents are deceased, she hasn’t heard from her alcoholic brother in six years, and she doesn’t know much about her associates – so personal connections are clearly not her forte and she does seem particularly susceptible to her situation. Still, Gilman has a fantastic ear for dialogue, and she brings light to an important social topic without sermonizing. While not a perfect play, it is no less an unsettling experience.

photos by Dean LaPrairie

Boy Gets Girl
Raven Theatre’s West Stage
scheduled to end on March 2, 2013
for tickets, call 773.338.2177 or visit http://www.raventheatre.com

for info on this and other Chicago Theater, visit http://www.TheatreinChicago.com

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