Sunday, March 27, 2016

A SINGULAR THEY / Blank Theatre

Playwright Aliza Goldstein’sA Singular They” currently at The Blank Theatre / Second Stage, bumps the discussion of gender issues to another level.  The play presents a growing spectrum of people who simply don’t fit neatly into society’s simple constructs of which bathroom to use, whom to love and be loved by and how to address and deal with the changing climate of gender.

 Lily Nicksay (L) and Hannah Prichard    Photo Credit Anne E. McGrath
The Second Stage sits on Theatre Row on Santa Monica Boulevard at Wilcox in Hollywood.  It’s a funky little storefront with a cramped “lobby” and six or eight cardiac steps up to the space itself.  It’s seat of the pants, jury rigged and charming.  Aaron Lyons’ multi purpose two level set works well as we meet Deidre (Hannah Prichard) and Burbank aka Cristine (Lily Nicksay), two seventeen year olds who are anything but typical teens.  “Deids” is knocked up and marveling at the whole business of growing a whole person inside her body.  She grouses about the Yuppiesque Johnsons whom her mother has recruited to adopt the child whom she will soon deliver.  Her pal, Burbank, shows up with a new Justin Bieber hairdo and presents at once as an attractive teen girl as well as a cute and somewhat androgynous  boy.  They serve time in Mr. Mazar’s (Nick Ballard) detention hall where they make up assignments missed in their regular classes.  Mazar is 26 and handsome.  It’s a situation that young teachers may face often: dealing with a teen crush, especially when the teacher’s own sexual identity may be ambiguous and in question.  The moral issue of an ‘adult’ and a ‘child’ getting together blossoms as Mazar attempts to counsel Burbank.

As Burbank attempts to puzzle out their personal identity (note the gender neutral pronoun) and how to deal with a double or triple dose of Teen Angst, we ride shotgun down their winding road to life.   From time to time Burbank addresses the audience to report on the issue that plagues them.  One web search announces, Between 0.1% and 0.2% of live births are ambiguous enough to become the subject of specialist medical attention, including surgery to assign them to a given sex category (i.e., male or female).”  At one point Burbank compares it to winning a "pretty shitty lottery." 

In a world where a person may be forced to choose to identify as one sex or another:  male or female, Burbank just wants to be their own person: someone who is accepted and loved for whom they are instead of undergoing sex assignment surgery, not ‘’RE” assignment…  for them to fit into the only option that our narrow social construct may accept. A noble goal.

Director, Christopher J. Raymond, guides Deidre and Burbank well, as Mazar is somewhat slow to catch up.  A subtly different acting style doesn’t spoil the story, but may call attention to itself.  It’s a gray note.  A nightmare for Burbank is somewhat difficult to parse out, but over all the question of how to deal with folks who may have won a very difficult lottery to help them become happy and well-adjusted individuals who are successful in their own stories is a topic worth exploring.   A thoughtful and well constructed piece.  Highly recommended.

by Aliza Goldstein
The Blank’s 2nd Stage Theatre
6500 Santa Monica Boulevard
(on Theatre Row at Wilcox)
Hollywood, CA 90038
Friday and Saturday at 8pm
Sunday at 2pm
Through May 1, 2016
Tickets are $30
Tickets and information:
(323) 661-9827

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