Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Also see Richard's reviews of The Oldest Living Cater Waiter: My Life in Three Courses and Othello
The audience enters the intimate space of the in-the-round theatre on the second floor. High overhead we see a bed, a door, and a lamp hanging on a ropes upside down. There are magazines thrown about on the floor of what looks like a teenage girl's bedroom. TV flat screens are facing each section of the audience high above. These screens will play a major part in this unusual drama.
The plot involves a 15-year-old girl, simply called "Girl A," who is facing a change in her life that threatens to crack open her everyday world. This young teenager has become pregnant by a 17-year-old boy after a one night stand. Shown on the TV screens, she searches the internet for ways to abort the baby, such as taking large does of Tylenol.
There are many things going on in this fast paced 70-minute production directed by Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, including three persons in complete hoods crawling about the outer stage at the feet of the audience shouting words, phrases and finally full sentences once Girl A gets pregnant. I construed these "shadows" to represent nightmares.
The world of this teenager is the contemporary era of total noise-culture. It's a world of miscommunication in social media, self-help, and bad advice. It's a world without romance. In one scene the boy brings champagne and two glasses and romances the girl, but the TV monitors overhead show this is not how it really went.
Phillip Howze's drama is full of emotionsanger, hopelessness, acquiescence, obliviousness, infidelity, and annoyance, but maybe that is just too much for the average audience to handle in this brief period of time.
Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe has assembled four excellent actors to present this word fest. Britney Frazier is believable as urban teen Girl A , giving a beautiful performance as the pregnant teenager. Tristan Cunningham, who I saw just two months ago in The Taming as an adult, brilliantly plays 15-year-old "Girl B" as a high-energy, egocentric gossiper. Indiia Wilmott rocks as the mother of the pregnant girl. She shows depth in the role as a disconnected mother who is more interested in her own priorities. Rounding out the cast is Cameron Matthews as "Boy" who is looking for sex without complications. Tristan Cunningham, Indiia Wilmott, and Cameron Matthews also play the nightmares, completely covered in black clothes.
Zoe Rosenfeld designed the clever set with terrific lighting by Sophia Craven. Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe's direction is sharp and incisive.
San Francisco Playhouse's all of what you love and none of what you hate plays at The Rueff at A.C.T.'s Strand Theatre, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco through September 25th, 2016. For tickets call 415-677-9596 or visit www.sfplayhouse.org. Coming up next is Theresa Rebeck's Seared opening on October 1st on the main stage at San Francisco Playhouse, 450 Post Street, San Francisco.