By Daniel Skora
With a title like “Boy Gets Girl”, you might assume that the show you were about to see had a good chance of being a romantic comedy. But “Boy Gets Girl”, the current presentation of the Open Book Theatre Company is anything but. The play, by Rebecca Gilman, opens innocently enough with Theresa (Krista Schafer Ewbank), a writer for a New York magazine, arriving at a restaurant for a prearranged blind date. Tony (David Moan), the young man across the table, seems accommodating enough as the two share a couple of beers. Clean cut and intelligent, it’s easy to disregard his occasional awkward comments. Theresa is a bit uncomfortable, having been away from the dating scene for a while, and decides that there’s not a whole lot that the two have in common. She breaks off the evening, but gracious as she is, agrees to meet him again for dinner. And that second meeting is when “Boy Gets Girl” begins to sound a lot more like spider gets fly.
Gilman’s play, first performed in 2000, is both a tense drama about one woman’s encounter with a stalker and what could easily serve as a clinical textbook on the sexual mind of the male gender, both the healthy and the deviant kind. As drama, “Boy Gets Girl” progresses from a conventional beginning to a dark, frightening conclusion. Ewbank nicely captures the decline of a woman under constant and severe emotional assault. The taut thriller alternates with what’s best described as a compendium on how men deal with their attraction to the opposite sex. Several characters straddle both arenas.
Howard (Dennis Kleinsmith) is Theresa’s editor at the magazine while Mercer (Jeff Fritz) is a colleague. Both go out of their way to assist Theresa in any way they can. It’s their scene together where Mercer, in attempting to figure out the motives of a man like Tony, lays bare the male psyche as it pertains to the physical attraction of women. Les Kennkat (Dan Jaroslaw) is a movie director who Theresa interviews for the magazine.
Though the women in his movies are there for no other reason than their physical attributes, he is open and honest about whom he is and Theresa returns for a second helping of his genuineness as he recoups from surgery in the hospital. Detective Beck (Jan Cartwright) provides soothing words and encouragement while giving a rundown on the modus operandi of the typical stalker. Harriet (Alexis Barrera) is the receptionist whose looks far exceed her intellect.
Though Gilman’s script could use a little paring down, The Open Book’s production nevertheless entertains while telling a story that is both timely and significant. The disruptions from frequent set changes are mitigated by musical interludes of popular songs that go hand in hand with the storyline.
“Boy Gets Girl” is directed by Topher Alan Payne, who does set design along with Harley Miah. Miah also contributes lighting and sound design.
“Boy Gets Girl” runs through January 28th. Tickets can be purchased online via credit card or by mailing a check to Open Book Theatre Company at 1621 West Road, Trenton MI 48183. Further information is available by phone at 1.734.288.7753, via email at email@example.com, or at their website at www.openbooktc.com.