By Sandi Durell
Growing up isn’t an easy task at any time. But here we are in the 1980s and competition is fierce – girls being girls, are chatter boxes, busily comparing themselves to older girls, each other, famous people they see on TV, trying to emulate them. They’re like sponges absorbing anything thrown at them by the media and advertisers. When necessary, many will lie to their parents, to each other for their own benefit. Boys, well, whether they are fine or not so fine, have one thing on their mind – sex.
When friends Emily (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Jenny (Abigail Breslin) are together, it’s all talk, talk, talk about the older boys. . . the boys in high school on whom they have a crush while busily eating Pringles and watching horror movies. Emily really likes that guy Adam (Alex Wolff) who plays in a band and Jenny has a thing for another. But events turn more serious when Joe (Joe Tippett) – someone Jenny knows from Church – pulls up in his car one day and asks her to get in.
Next thing you know, Jenny is in Joe’s apartment and coming on to him because they both know why she’s there.
The scenes shift from Jenny/Joe to Emily/Adam in their tug of war and exploration. Jenny is more than brazen, and silly, for a girl going on 15. When she finds out Joe is 28, and has a real job, she asks him for things . . . take me shopping for makeup, clothing; take me on a trip. He acquiesces seemingly taken with her, Jenny behaving childish yet well understanding the real reason Joe has involved himself with her. The unintended consequences not yet realized.
Adam, on the other hand, is the intellectual, esoteric type who spouts off as an existentialist providing more than fascination for Emily who is eager to learn from him.
Jenny proclaims her love for Joe and they spend four days together in his apartment, she missing school but getting other kinds of lessons in matters of sex and using it to get what she wants. Things turn ugly for Jenny when Joe admits he is married, his wife away, Jenny eventually learning he also has two daughters. Joe tries to swear her to secrecy as the implications become clear but she’ll have none of that as she lashes out at him. The turbulent outcome isn’t a total surprise as Joe, in a rage, rather than allow Jenny to tell, winds up killing her.
As for Emily who is falling fast for Adam, she offers herself to him as a birthday gift, which he declines. One year passes, she seeks him out and Adam is a new person. He is no longer the glib intellectual, revealing he is failing school because he spends all his time in bed with a new girlfriend having sex.
Lives torn apart, fine young boys who aren’t so fine, young girls who dream – sexual awakenings gone amuck; not unfamiliar themes. However, Erica Schmidt – writer and director – has put her own spin on it with a talented young ensemble of actors from film and television with an ability to hold audience attention albeit the rapid fire pace of dialogue from Jenny sometimes comes out as gibberish. Slow down girl!
The set is a small and simple living room with a doorway to an outer area designed by Amy Rubin, with Jeff Croiter on lights and Bart Fasbender on sound.
All the Fine Boys has a limited run thru March 26 presented by The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center – Ford Foundation Studio Theatre – 480 West 42 Street – Run time 1 hr. 40 minutes (no intermission) Ticket Central 212 279-4200 www.theNewGroup.org
Photos: Monique Carboni