Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls
Say ‘aloha’ to this coming-of-age play
|Brown Paper Box Co. presents|
|Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls|
Review by Anuja Vaidya
"Aloha," means both hello and goodbye. So unless you know whether you are coming or going, the word is rendered meaningless. Aloha, Say The Pretty Girls takes on the rather challenging task of exploring the usually confused and fractured world of twenty-somethings, who are still trying to figure out if they are coming and going. As a twenty-something myself, I can appreciate just how confusing, terrifying and at times, exciting this world can be. Unfortunately, Naomi Iizuka‘s incredibly obtuse script takes away from what would have otherwise been a relatable look at a time that audience members have either experienced or are currently experiencing.
The play follows a group of twenty-somethings as they stumble along, trying to get used to the fact that they have to grow up, and grow up soon. The structure of the play is fragmented but it is not a vignette piece – the stories intersect at points, and the characters also interact with each other. The intensely metaphorical script takes us into a world where time and space is malleable, where absurdity coexists with the typical and where things change – including the species of the characters. The script is also chock-full of metaphors, and while there are moments of profundity and metaphors that click, for the most part it feels unnecessarily abstract.
The fantastic elements in the kinds of plays that attempt to draw you into an improbable world only work well if they are used to juxtapose the absurd with real experiences. In this particular show, it’s as though some of the fantastical elements are there for absolutely no reason. There are certain metaphors that come up quite unexpectedly and then disappeared equally unexpectedly; I still have no clue why they were there to begin with. Characters change, literally and figuratively, and while there are some relatable moments, these changes happen all too suddenly. These constant shifts are jarring, and, unfortunately, take away from the clever lines that are peppered through the script.
The only character who seems to somewhat successfully navigate through her twenties is Vivian, played by Pamela Mae Davis, who delivers an excellent performance. Not only is her comic timing spot-on, but she also gives us an incredibly nuanced and heartfelt performance. The Vivian of the first act is not the Vivian of the second, and rightly so.
The rest of the cast, on the whole, deliver commendable performances. Luke Michael Grimes is particularly engaging. As the uptight, young millionaire and the teacher who professes to be "the only grown up in the room," he is both thought provoking and hilarious.
With some wonderful dialogue and poignant moments, this script does at times manage to the hit the mark in terms of representing life as a twenty-something, but it gets lost in abstract concepts. Ultimately, it’s confusing trying to follow the twists and turns of the script, making for a less than satisfying theater experience, despite some great work by the cast.
Aloha, Say the Pretty Girls continues through June 16th at Heartland Studio, 7016 N. Glenwood (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, Sundays 2pm. Tickets are $20, and are available online at BrownPaperTickets.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at BrownPaperBox.org. (Running time: 2 hours, includes an intermission)
Photos by Alexa Ray Meyers and Chad Shelton
Pamela Mae Davis (Vivian), Luke Michael Grimes (Richard, Myrna), Justin Harner (Martin), Christopher Hart (Will, Derek), Derek Herman (Pete), Stephanie Rohr (Wendy), Anna Schutz (Joy, Billy), Bob Skosky (Jason)
behind the scenes
M. William Panek (director), Sheila Gleason (set design), Cat Wilson (lighting design), Laura Wiley (asst. lighting), Patrick J. Butterfield (production assistant), Jamie Girdauskas (tech director), Becky Cagney (light board operator), Michelle Kritselis (dramaturg), Charlie Sheets (graphic designer), Alexa Ray Meyers, Chad Shelton (photos)