Everything plus the girl … almost

Apr 10, 2002 at 12:00 am

Girl meets girl. Girl takes girl to bed. Girl falls in love.

The story reads like a teen romance, but the play, Girl Meets Girl (produced by New York-L.A.-based Caryn Horowitz), with its cast of six sexed-up, messed-up lesbians, is more like a “Real World” episode where everyone is gay and topless.

Overall, the play is an awkward mix of goofy and gutsy, expert in its subject matter, but a bit lacking in its art form. But whether playwrights Craig Fox and Sally Stover are trying to talk issues or just make live comedy for dykes is not clear. Sometimes the story gets a little heady with talk of sexual politics and exploitation; other times it’s just funny. And at still other times, it just tries to be funny. That’s when it’s most painfully apparent that not all the actors are on top of their game as often as they are on top of each other.

Anita (Cleo Brittan), the pretty 35-year-old magazine editor, whose romantic triumphs and troubles drive the entire plot, hooks up with a spunky drifter-stripper, Annie (Jamie Cotton). Anita’s new lover is also a former porn star and prostitute who dreams of publishing her erotic photography. Under the nebulous influence of Annie, Anita is somehow liberated to explore her underlying desires to become some odd combination of nude model and entrepreneur. She might look great naked and wear cute expressions, but her acting often comes off like she’s reading for the high-school play. Which is too bad, as some of the writing in Girl Meets Girl is comical and worthy of much more than Drama 101.

The going’s a little smoother for some of the other actors. Angela Carmen plays Kim, Anita’s needy best friend. Carmen is dramatic with a sense of natural ease and sometimes hilarious without being overly exaggerated. She’s especially great in her solo scene, where heartache and loneliness over a break-up with her girlfriend, an older, philandering, women’s studies professor named Lois (Dylan Chenery), lead her to call a 1-900 sex line.

Acting-wise Chenery, who is also the theater company manager, is an absolute anchor here, wearing her training and years of experience in stark contrast to some of her stage mates. Her character, Lois, is the source of the aforementioned headiness, as she lectures on pornography, sex and gender between sordid affairs with her young, impressionable female students.

The fiftysomething, vegan, lesbian hippie Glory (Twyla Meyer) floats around in her long skirts talking about historic acid trips over tofu cheese and glasses of organic champagne. She falls for the young and butch Bud (played by singer-songwriter Mercury). And that makes Girl Meets Girl’s lineup of six lesbians seem like a full set.

After all, the assortment of dyke stereotypes in this play is curiously complete: the lanky bisexual stripper, the corporate femme who took ages to come out of the closet, the academic feminist clutching a copy of The Second Sex in one hand while grabbing her student’s ass with the other, the gay grandma with the colorful past, a confused-troubled lesbian longing for a normal relationship, and a spiked, pierced and tattooed college student toting an acoustic guitar and a collection of Ani DiFranco records.

With its bouquet of lesbian characters and carefully pointed humor, Girl Meets Girl might do a fine job of depicting the lesbian experience on certain levels. But as far as the theater experience goes, it opts to be more a curiosity than a work of striking quality.

Girl Meets Girl runs at 1515 Broadway, Detroit, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. through April 28. For more information call 248-746-9230.

Norene Cashen writes about performance for Metro Times. E-mail her at [email protected]