Indoctrination and culture often go hand in glove. We pick up (often subtle) clues from the behavior of others, regarding attitudes towards men and women, boys and girls. Here in the 21st Century, we like to think we’ve evolved past ignorant, outdated assumptions, but sadly many persist. Ideas like male privilege, female helplessness, predatory dynamics, still manage to sift into our consciousness, so taken for granted they go undetected. Such is the case with Rebecca Gilman’s brilliant drama: Boy Gets Girl. Though the title might suggest a number of lighthearted romantic comedies, it also implies the woman has little choice in the matter. Her role is to be pursued and resist as long as she can. It leaves no room for refusal. At the outset, Teresa goes on a blind date with Tony. Their first beer together goes well enough, but the second time (when they meet for dinner) it’s clear to Teresa they’re not a good fit. Tony mistakes her tact for ambivalence, and what might have been played for laughs, gradually becomes more and more disturbing. Before Boy Gets Girl finishes, Tony will subject Teresa to increasingly poisonous behavior, diminishing her life without even being in the same room.
I’m not sure Gilman’s aim is to point the finger towards men, as it might be to explore, and bring attention to our oversights and mistaken ideas. When men get together and compare notes on women their reasoning can lack enlightenment (to be kind) and to be fair, such conversations on the part of either gender can result in an us versus them mentality. It’s to Gilman’s credit that she drops intelligent, if indirect, hints throughout the script. Teresa must interview a cheesy movie maker (based on Russ Meyers?) who’s made a career of films that objectify women. Her male colleagues are unsettled to discover the code on her calendar for keeping track of her period. This polarization, this conflation of the mysterious “other gender” with adversarial chemistry or dehumanization, goes to the core of Boy Gets Girl and cultural permission to take liberties. What happens on the stage, Gilman suggests, only begins to explain the hazardous complications of sexual attachment between men and women.
A collaboration between Resolute Theatre Project, L.I.P. Service and Proper Hijinx Productions, and directed by Jason Leyva, Boy Gets Girl is a skillful, moving, deeply troubling piece. The cast and crew converge to share a narrative with no easy answers, and many traps waiting, even when our motives feel innocuous. They preserve the comic relief without undercutting the gravity. It is a cautionary tale, to be sure, but beyond that, an invitation to reflect on the emotions and frustrations that lurk behind familiar scenarios that we re-enact daily, without a second thought. Don’t miss this quietly stunning, sharp, revealing drama.
Boy Gets Girl plays August 25th-27th, 2017. Amy’s Studio of Performing Arts, 11888 Marsh Lane, Suite 600, Dallas, Texas 75234. 972-484-7900. www.resolutetheatreproject.com