When Boy Gets Girl

It’s a familiar story. Boy loves girl, girl ignores boy, boy woos girl, girl rejects his affections once again, boy offers one final, climactic show of love.

But there is a point where it turns horribly wrong.

Girl files for restraining order. Boy violates order repeatedly. Girl lives in terror.

Idealized romance isn’t all it’s cracked up to be when Boy Gets Girl in Rebecca Gilman’s masterful thriller.

It begins with a few casual drinks at a bar, a conversation that plods along with all the awkwardness of any blind date. Theresa (Elinor Holt) isn’t sure about Tony (Ryan Luhning), she just met him after all. But another date is arranged after Tony awkwardly "puts the offer on the table," and so the courtship continues–until Theresa decides it has to end. Tony disagrees.

Terror is difficult to achieve on stage when there is a comfortable distance between the audience and the actors, but in the Betty Mitchell Theatre, the small venue that serves as Theatre Junction’s home, this distance is eliminated.

When Tony hangs up Theresa’s phone, advising her not to call security, we can see the blank expression on his face, hear the thinly veiled threat beneath his voice. As the players move the modular set pieces, always in character, we are reminded that Tony has not disappeared, reminded that he is always close enough to threaten.

The intensity of Theresa’s living nightmare is broken only by the occasional appearance by girly-movie producer extraordinaire, Less Kennkat. Played with perfect comic decor by Tim Koetting, this seemingly benign misogynist serves both to break the sense of impending horror and remind us that we remain, as always, ingrained with notions of women that are less than harmless. Therein lies one of the central thrusts of Boy Gets Girl.

Every day, we are battered by images of romance, pursuit, even conquest. We are inundated by stories of improbable affection and images of the sultry feminine ideal. Gilman’s thoughtful script allows the audience to explore these implications without clumsily beating us over the head. It is the terror we feel, raw and primal, that makes this such a compelling production.

From a shifting set that seems to portray the increasing anomie of Theresa’s disintegrating life to a cast capable of creating palpable fear in its audience, Boy Gets Girl is an uncanny presentation that is sure to leave audiences looking over their shoulders and into their consciences.

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