What’s more horrible – killing a new born kitten, a hit and run accident, capital punishment, serving a vegan some foul or having an abortion? All of these points are brought up in the new Jonathan Reynolds play Girls in Trouble – and are they ever.
There are three stories going on here and the resident acting company of the Flea Theatre, the Bats, does an admirable job of acting them out.
First up is a naturalistic segment that has two guys with an inebriated gal in the back seat of their car driving wildly to Cleveland during the sixties when abortion was illegal to have that act performed on said gal. Frat sex talk and jokes abound. Hutch (Andy Gershenzon) is a well connected, crass young egotist in D.C. who has a quickie along the road with his female friend (Betsy Lippitt) while Teddy, his nerdy buddy (Brett Aresco) listens and looks and masturbates while they partake in said quickie. She finally has the procedure for which she is also ripped off financially by Hutch. The abortion goes awry while the daughter (Eboni Booth) of the abortionist (Akylaa Wilson) snaps the head off a new born kitten. How symbolic!
The second too long for its own good section is a kind of rap monologue by the drugged up grown up daughter of the abortionist from the earlier segment which takes place during the Reagan years which now puts this ghetto girl in control as she has the law on her side. Waffling back and forth to abort or not to abort, Eboni Booth delivers the goods turning in a great performance. And she isn’t finished yet.
After a long intermission, while they set up an entirely new kitchen set with a wok that works, we find ourselves in a completely new tonal landscape. Ms. Booth has cleaned up her act and life – she is now a doctor (but is she?) has married her old boyfriend, has six children and has gotten herself into the kitchen of NPR star chef Amanda (a beautiful, strong and believable Laurel Holland) who finds herself surprisingly pregnant and has called on the services of this other woman to help her.
As it turns out she is a pro life activist and does everything to convince Amanda that she is not there to harm her (she strips down naked to prove her point) and that Amanda should have her baby even if she puts it up for adoption. Every conceivable argument is presented here (verbal ping pong) both pro and con, by Mr. Reynolds with a dash of satire thrown in to spice things up even more. Betsy Lippitt shows up as the young daughter that hates her mom and her ex-husband (Marshall York) appears so that more opinions can be screamed. The pro life activist finally takes things into her own hands, literally, with an ending that is extremely hard to swallow. It’s not for the squeamish.
Director Jim Simpson has attempted to make sense out of this long, graphic and uneven production. It’s unsettling but I suppose that’s the point. www.theflea.org