Millennial Tragedies Have Never Been so Funny
Drawings cover the walls, music blares, and rows of chairs/egg crates are mere feet from the set. From the moment we walk in, the audience is transported to mid-twenties life, it’s messy but starting to feel like home.
Imagine a modernized ‘Threes Company’ meets ‘Broad City’, in which the girls get real about work, sexuality, and how to survive 2017 as a progressive, millennial woman.
Nothing Without a Company Site-Specific LGBTQA Focus
Behind this work is Nothing Without a Company, an ambitious theater company specializing in site-specific, immersive works while championing LGBTQIA artists in a safe, creative space.
Following two women as they navigate the distinct challenges of balancing their pursuit of dreams with the drags of everyday life, BOBBY PIN GIRLS (BPG) is a rare piece of theater that captures truly authentic, organic hidden moments whether that is a quiet glimpse of Bree perfecting her artwork or Ana chowing down on Wheat-Thins.
BPG is fueled by biting, current dialogue by Janey Bell. Her DEAR EVAN HANSEN references get more than a few giggles while director Ben Kaye navigates sudden tonal shifts with impressive grace while avoiding melodrama, even as challenging themes like suicide are brought up.
Ana is a keyed-up actress who, as described by a Buzzfeed quiz, is a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing. Her roommate and opposite in many ways is Bree, the classic artsy type: progressive, edgy, with a fragile confidence in her artistic vision. The intense energy that Grace Hutchings brings to the role of Ana is believable yet boundless all at once while Bree, played by Emilie Modaff, dishes out snark and life lessons with a sharp comedic timing and facial expressions that perfectly encapsulate the tone of the piece.
A knock at the door and the audience is confronted by Danny, the toxic ex. The moment he walks in, leather jacket, chains, and septum piercing, it’s clear that he brings a dangerous charisma, particularly intoxicating to Bree.
What happens when you love a self-destructive person?
Peter Wilde brings immense sincerity to the role as Danny struggles with addiction, self-harm, and the difficult balance of not wanting to be alone while attempting to avoid dragging others down with him as his depression spirals.
Much like the sensation of returning home years later, Bree reverts back to her baneful ways the moment Danny enters her apartment.
Red and green lights flash and punk blares as the former flames begin to duel over his bottle of Xanex (a medication Danny has commonly abused in the past). Part prowling and seductive, partly moshing, the combination of choreography and lighting design throw the audience right into their tantalizing but combative dynamic. An experience that writer Janey Bell aptly describes as “like walking into a dark room. It can either be filled with puppies or broken glass”.
The drama is, somehow, amplified even more when Tim, Ana’s costar and lackluster handjob recipient, follows Ana home. At first, Tim seems like the ordinary, khaki-wearing nice guy. But soon he crosses the line between “stalking and passion”. His clingy, ‘I can do no wrong’ attitude counters Danny’s ‘all I do is ruin things’ mindset in a profound, poetic manner. Debo Balogun brings a refreshing twist to the character as he avoids the stereotypical ‘creeper’ personality, dancing on the line between romantic gesture and pure ick.
Still, no matter what happens with the men, Bree and Ana face it together. BOBBY PIN GIRLS is more than a tale of sexual awakening. The piece has a playful, energetic approach as it tackles relatable issues of self-worth (all while making site-specific theater approachable). On the fence about site-specific theater? This poignant yet sassy play is the perfect introduction.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
The Chicago Mosaic School
1101 W. Granville Ave., Chicago, IL
October 29 - December 3rd
Thursdays, Fridays, & Saturdays at 8 pm
Sundays at 6 pm
Editor's Note and Full Disclosure- Sharon Krome directed in Nothing Without a Company’s 24 Hour Theater Festival this summer