The protagonist in Detroit-born playwright Neil LaBute's recent play, "Some Girl(s)," isn't really evil. He's just a self-absorbed schmuck.
It wouldn't be a LaBute play otherwise.
Known for writing edgy works about relationships – sexual and otherwise – LaBute's men are usually selfish pricks, and Guy is no different. But what makes "Some Girl(s)" unique is his focus on the play's four women. There are no submissive wallflowers here. Instead, what LaBute offers are meaty roles about strong women who have been used and cavalierly thrown away by men like Guy – and they aren't going to take it anymore.
Although a couple of personalities aren't explored as deeply as they could have been in this first-ever team-up between Theater 1 and Phases Theatre Company, director Elana Elyce and her cast – a noticeably mixed bag of training and experience – generally deliver the emotional punch the playwright intended.
Set in four different hotel rooms, Guy (played by producer Remi Esordi) is crisscrossing America on a mission to make amends with a handful of former girlfriends. Or so he leads them to believe.
A college instructor and popular writer for national magazines, the handsome and sweet-talking 30-something has decided to finally settle down and get married, but he can't do so until he resolves issues he believes they might still have with him. (If you're not buying that, you're not alone; the women aren't either.)
His first stop is Seattle where he visits with Sam (Maria L. Serratos), his high school sweetheart. Then it's off to Chicago for a reunion with a very sexy artist, Tyler (Virginia Bryant). Next is Boston where he had an affair with fellow faculty member Lindsay (Kristen Wagner), a gender studies professor whose husband – also on staff – discovered their illicit romance. His final visit finds him in Los Angeles with Bobbi (Mary Courie), a doctor he cruelly dumped after hooking up with Tyler.
None of the encounters goes as planned, of course. Or did they?
If men are pigs, as many women and lonely, single gay men often claim, then LaBute's Guy is the master swine. A multi-layered role filled with contradictory intentions – is he sincere in his apologies, or are they simply a devious means to an otherwise unstated end -actor Esordi delivers his lines with the appropriate shadings.
The most convincing of the aggrieved women is Wagner, who creates an immediate impression as Lindsay and enjoys every tasty morsel of it.
One problem that surfaces throughout the show – especially early on – is line delivery. LaBute's true-to-life dialogue is often choppy – meant to be stepped on, built upon or interrupted part-way through, especially as tensions flair. Here, inexperienced actors stop and pause where no breaks should be present, which sounds false and disrupts the story's pace.
All technical elements of the show are fine. And having two stagehands dressed as hotel maids change the set between scenes is not only creatively thematic, but interesting to watch.
REVIEW: 'Some Girl(s)'
Phases Theatre Company and Theater1 at Matrix Theatre, 2730 Bagley, Detroit. Fri.-Sun., through March 4. Tickets: $15. For information: 313-887-0305 or http://www.myspace.com/theatreone