I find it pretty shocking how much of someone’s dating life is considered to be in the domain of polite small talk. Acquaintances, distant family relatives and even coworkers are prone to ask about romantic involvement at any given point in time; a reductionist check-up on a subject matter so personal and complex it's usually impossible to put into a single sound bite. Society can put a tremendous amount of pressure to be with someone, lauding it as a benchmark of emotional and social stability. All while having defined expectations as to how the opposite sexes should perceive each other romantically.
It was pleasantly surprising to see an in-depth discussion of these perceptions inside the garden variety stalker narrative of Boy Gets Girl. There are a plethora of interesting viewpoints on self, media, and romantic perceptions of each gender. Dialogue between characters ask deep questions such as how much of our sexual identity is our own and how much belongs to society. Some of the discussion points are incredibly dated (as it ran originally in the early 00’s) and certain scenes feel like unnecessary filler, but Boy Gets Girl retains the dark, twisted thrills of a stalker story while providing thoughtful personal perspectives on sex in society.
Boy Gets Girl follows the story of Theresa, a journalist working in New York City who is set up on a blind date with Tony via pressure from a mutual friend. The date goes poorly, and after another failed dinner date, Theresa breaks it off. Tony falls into a dark spiral of entitlement, misogyny, and saviorism as he fails to understand why Theresa could be so cruel to such a nice, good guy. Things come to a fever pitch and the law gets involved and legal steps are taken to prevent impending harm to Theresa. This main plot line is in the foreground of various other subplots, which include Theresa writing an exposé on a misogynistic filmmaker and monologues which develop the backgrounds of each of Theresa’s coworkers.
The highlight of the show, by far, is the acting. The cast is solid from top to bottom, with a standout performance from Katie Zisson who plays Theresa. All characters deliver their lines with a sincerity that can be felt and genuine chemistry that can be seen. Monologues and perspectives have impact solely because the divide between character and actor is minimal; most points land because they are felt rather than told. Katie’s face when she opens a particularly disturbing letter from Tony channels pure horror in a way that will be burned into your memory. Saltbox Theatre Collective should be highly commended for putting together such a strong cast for this production.
As stated previously though, the writing meanders, particularly in the second act. There are certain scenes that will leave you wondering why the entire sequence was necessary. At a run time of a little over two hours, there are certain scenes which could have been cut to improve the pacing of the production. Act two does not grip as tightly as act one, but there are still moments which will both make you think and other which will send shivers down your spine. Boy Meets Girl is a dark, thoughtful story worthy of your time if you can trade a prolonged run time for incredible acting.
Review by Ryan Moore
Boy Gets Girl continues at The Edge Off-Broadway Theatre through Jan. 27. Info here.
The Hawk Chicago is included in TheatreInChicago's Review Round-Up.