yeah, i met this girl… a look at the contemporary dating scene is on beat in the East Village
by Monica Charline Brown
The vibe of yeah, i met this girl… is set wandering the trendy and artistically chic streets of the East Village. Trekking downstairs, amidst the graffiti covered doors and padlocks, Under St. Marks Theater appears as an intimate space with open seating. The eye is drawn to set designer Paulo Maldini’s creation of an array of scattered chairs, tables and cabinets, and the ear is flooded with hipster music.
The play begins with a couple interacting using a typical slew of contemporary pickup lines, yet the charming text of the piece is brought to the forefront. Another couple comes onto the scene, discovering an unlikely link over the novel, Ulysses. A pattern of emotional human connection moments, followed by physical contact, is established. The camaraderie between three guys illustrates their separate romantic encounters. Referring to each other as “out of practice in picking up girls,” the misogynistic language could be offensive to some women. The satiric nature, however, seems to point in a different direction. The ridiculousness of millennial hook-up culture seems to draw an awareness and attention to a new kind of society. The “bros” even break out in a deadpanned dance party, attracting humor to the universal situation. Moving along through the “Netflix and chill” reference, and not so subtle commentary of the digital age, the climax of the show is a role-play romp, turned sexual frenzy, with all six actors. Trading partners and feeding each other sweet nothings, the pressure instigates a “rave.” A remarkable transition occurs from the stereotypical to the more profound, almost mirroring a relationship. From the true soul’s talk of the yin and yang, to the men offering a chain of aphorisms, the clipped syntax of the text has the power of quick pacing, while not being afraid of silence.
Maurice Turtelli and Associates crafted a stunning ensemble for yeah, i met this girl . . . Dan McVey as Guy is confident and constantly ticking, while Eric Doviak as Ben is cocky but likeable, and simultaneously bumbling and slick. Christopher Heard’s portrayal of Joe is remarkable and shocking. He transforms from a dude not picking up his friend’s references, though nailing comedic timing, to portraying the dark turn of a man who loses his girlfriend as he drowns in sorrow and refuses to succumb to pity. Zina Wilde displays quite the range, playing equally well the charmingly quirky and giggly girl and the sassy and seductive vixen. Her final character was particularly noteworthy and spontaneous. She listened, with a literal tear in her eye, to a man’s story that led to an abrupt fallout. Amanda Kristin Nichols is stunning and brings an earthy yet approachable vibe to the work. Eloquent and intelligently calm, but nevertheless a straightforward spitfire exhibiting vulnerability, her standout scene engages a series of questions covering the entire period of a relationship. Stacey Roca is effortlessly fearless, bringing conversational ease and an honesty and believability to her roles.
Antony Raymond’s dual direction and playwriting are gifted. The non-linear style makes it possible to flash forward and back, guiding through the journey of being a single man in the greatest city in the world. His directing perspective is keen, using distance as a means of achieving tension, and catty corner lines to elongate the stage. Unfortunately, the location of the bar, placed on the extreme side of the set, created an obstructed view from certain seats in the house. Lighting design by Daryl Embry was slick and assisted the eye in focal point shifting. The costumes of Fabio Cannavaro were on point with millennials, donning girls in Converse, cardigans, and ruffles, and guys in suits and skinny ties. Deen Anthony’s sound design was beautiful, setting the mood from Tony Bennett to the elevator music post-show.
If you are looking for some social commentary with bittersweet feeling, do yourself a favor and join Elsinore County for their production of yeah, I met this girl at Under St. Marks.
yeah, i met this girl… Through Sunday, February 14th at Under St. Marks (94 Saint Marks Place between First Avenue and Avenue A). Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission. Fridays and Saturdays – 8 pm Sundays – 2pm. www.elsinorecounty.com