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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Boy Gets Girl at the Seattle Repertory Theatre

Thanks in no small part to the ideal casting of its lead female role, The Seattle Repertory Theatre's production of Rebecca Gilman's stalker saga Boy Gets Girl makes for a compelling evening of theatre.

With stalking having become something of a national pastime, Gilman's edgy tale of urban angst has become quite popular on the regional theatre circuit. What is most intriguing is that stalking victim Theresa Bedell is not a celebrity, and her stalker Tony starts in on her when, after merely one and a half dates, Theresa senses they aren't going to work out, and calls it quits. Unlikely it may be, but unrealistic it certainly is not.

Gilman's script starts out with the same kind of comic moments that one finds in the best Hitchcock films, so we are hit doubly hard when nasty things start happening. It reaches an uncliched yet unsatisfactory conclusion, which is unfortunate given what has come before. Happily, director Roberta Levitow captures the New York City rhythms of the play perfectly and has found a nearly pitch perfect cast to play out the tale.

Long a treasure of the Seattle Theatre scene (and recently justly acclaimed at Long Wharf Theatre where she repeated her stellar ACT Theatre performance in Mourning Becomes Electra), Liz McCarthy scores a knockout as the somewhat chilly but ultimately sympathetic journalist Theresa. McCarthy risks playing Theresa's date scenes with Tony in a way that briefly makes us pity the guy, then manages to win back the audiences sympathies big time as her privacy and personal life are torn apart by this wacko. Joe Hickey's characterization of Tony borders on becoming a bit too off-balance psycho too soon but is largely successful. David Scully is fine as Mercer, a journalistic colleague who winds up as the subject of Theresa's wrath when his suggestion of a stalker themed article hits too close to home. R. Hamilton Wright is sympathetic, if fairly predictable, as Theresa's supportive boss, while Joanne Klein has some nice scenes as the world-weary cop assigned to Theresa's case. Cleopatra Bertelstein is both comic and pathetic as Harriet, an office assistant whose naivete inadvertently aids Tony in his pursuit of Theresa.

Besides McCarthy, the other standout performance in the production is Stephen Payne, in a wry and salty turn as a veteran porno filmmaker that Theresa unwillingly interviews, yet finally befriends. Payne turns in the kind of scene stealing supporting turn that would win him an award, if any such awards existed for Seattle Theatre.

James Noone's sets are a perfect mix of the literal and the suggestive, with a particular nod to the set for Theresa's apartment after Tony has ransacked and desecrated it, and Christopher Reay's lighting design provides notable accompaniment. Rose Pederson's costumes range perfectly from Theresa's urban chic look to Harriet's out of control attire.

At a time when the economy and perilous state of affairs being endured by many Seattle arts organizations is so dire, it is nice to see Seattle Repertory Theatre employ so many local actors in its casts. It would be a shame to see McCarthy and others of her caliber desert the Pacific Northwest stages due to lack of employment.

Boy Gets Girl at Seattle Repertory Theatre 155 Mercer Street, Seattle Center through March 23. For further information visit the Rep's web site at www.seattlerep.org.




- David-Edward Hughes



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