Regional Reviews: Phoenix
The play unfolds across a series of hotel rooms in five different cities where a semi-successful writer named Guy revisits five women he had relationships with in the past on the eve of his upcoming marriage. He has sought these women out to try to right the wrongs in his past, make sure they are "okay," and give them closure as to why he broke up with them. As Guy revisits his past relationships with Sam, Tyler, Lindsey, Reggie, and Bobbi, the encounters become a series of candid and often confrontational conversations exploring themes of love and commitment. When he realizes he has hurt others, he starts a journey of self-reflection and self-discovery.
While the conversations in the play are somewhat repetitive, Labute's scenes and sharp and incisive dialogue authentically delve into the complexities of past romantic entanglements, the consequences of actions and choices, and the emotional impact of one's decisions on others. Labute does an excellent job revealing the characters' vulnerabilities and insecurities as the play unfolds. It's also very clear that Guy is the one in the wrong here and that all five women, while impacted and harmed from what Guy has done to them in the past, are all strong individuals.
Under Van Rockwell's sure-footed direction, the talented cast navigates Labute's sharp, truthful, and often biting dialogue with skill. Rockwell and his cast ensure that each of Guy's encounters with the women from his past is distinct, and the cast members clearly convey the complex dynamics of their characters' past relationships effectively. The chemistry within the cast is truthful and believable, which helps create moments of tension, humor, and vulnerability while also keeping the audience engaged. Rick Sandifer's static set design perfectly creates a sterile hotel room, one that with only a few small changes quickly becomes the succession of other hotel rooms in the play.
The emotional depth displayed by the cast makes the production continually impactful and compelling. Nathan Spector's unapologetic portrayal of Guy paints him as a flawed individual who, at first, sees himself as someone helping to get closure from the women he has wronged. As the conversations unfold, we see from Spector's measured line delivery and thoughtful expressions the transition between Guy's charming demeanor in the earlier scenes and his moments of self-reflection and internal struggles in the later ones.
The five actresses who play the individuals in Guy's past are all excellent, with each creating a distinct individual. Michaela Davison embodies resilience as Sam, Guy's high school girlfriend who refuses to be cast aside or minimized. As the free-spirited Tyler, Raijene Rodriguez oozes warmth and sensuality that injects an element of unpredictability into the plot. Kim LaVelle is superb as Lindsay, the older woman from Guy's past who finds a way to get closure under her own terms for the way he ended their relationship. As Reggie, the younger sister of Guy's high school friend, Jessica Graber brings vulnerability and nuance for what is, arguably, the most shocking conversation in the play. Suzanne Yatim Aslam is wonderful as Bobbi, the final ex-girlfriend Guy encounters. Her clear and realistic performance of this woman who confronts Guy with the consequences of his actions brings the play to its emotional climax.
Neil Labute's Some Girl(s) provides characters who elicit a range of emotions, from anger and frustration to vulnerability and resilience, and a plot that lays bare the emotional aftermath and the lasting effects of past relationships. With an excellent cast, Desert Stages presents an engaging and thought-provoking production of this exploration of love and self-discovery and the messy, complicated world of human relationships.
Some Girl(s) runs through February 4, 2024, at Scottsdale Desert Stages Theatre, Fashion Square, 7014 East Camelback Road, Suite 0586, Scottsdale AZ. For tickets and information, please visit desertstages.org or call 480-483-1664.
Director/ Fight Choreography: Van Rockwell