Career Calling

February 18, 2013

Sabbath, February 17, 2013

[On Sundays, this blog looks beyond work and careers in “Sabbath.”]

Feeling Another Person’s Pain

Today it was my pleasure to attend a performance of Rebecca Gilman’s play Boy Gets Girl at the Raven Theater in Chicago.  Simply put, the play is about a stalker and how he ruins a woman’s life.  However that description is far too simple to describe this fine play.

The main character Theresa Bedell meets Tony for a blind date.  After a second date, she informs Tony that she doesn’t want to see him again.  He sends flowers and calls and calls and calls.  Tony is not on stage for most of the play, but his presence lingers, ever more threatening.

The first half of the play speculates on why the stalking is happening.  Characters debate the meaning of relationships between men and women and how each gender sees the other differently.  The second half is much darker as Tony’s obsessions becomes more violent.  This section of the play is also more human as Theresa’s co-workers come to her support and open their lives to her.  Gilman’s power as a playwright is to make us feel a range of emotions.  For a play about stalking, she delivers many laughs and light moments.

I’ve been to several plays at Raven Theater.  It is a community that deliver outstanding performances and intriguing sets.  These qualities are present in Boy Gets Girl.  While the acting is great, I am especially impressed by the set and how effectively it uses a small space to move Theresa from her office to meetings with a film maker to a hospital room and to a raised section which was her apartment.  While there is no physical violence in the play, what occurs in the apartment brings home what it must be like to live under threat from a stalker.

One local critic suggests that the play makes Tony the “winner” because Theresa has to leave town to escape him.  On a surface level, that might be true.  However, the play also shows how a crime can bring people together and let them share feelings.  Theresa is a stronger character at the end of the play, more human even under threat.  Gilman has created a story and characters far deeper than the Lifetime stalker films she mocks during the play.  She forces the audience to think about relations between men and women.  And she reaffirms that most people are good, even when the end is not happy.  If you live in Chicago, this production runs through March 2.  It will be worth your time.

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