Friday, February 9, 2018

Review of Nice Girl at Raven Theatre

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Nice Girl. It was by Melissa Ross and it was directed by Lauren Shouse. It was about a woman named Josephine (Lucy Carapetyan) who was in her late thirties living with her mom, Francine (Lynne Baker), in a suburb of Boston in the 80s. And she was feeling pretty crappy about her life because she felt like she had wasted it. She feels like she needs to find someone to be with and find some friends. She becomes friends with a girl from work named Sherry (Stella Martin) who is a lot more free spirited and takes on Josephine as a project to teach her how to have more fun and attract men. Josephine reunites with a friend from high school, Donny (Benjamin Sprunger), who is going through a separation with his wife and works at the butcher shop. But her mom isn't too happy about it and is still treating her like a teenager. It's about getting older, mother-daughter relationships, and self image. I was really pulled into the story and it had talented actors. I really liked it.

I think the friendship between Josephine and Sherry is very sweet because they both have something they can give each other. Josephine can give Sherry a listening ear, and Sherry can help Josephine on her quest to be a more exciting person. I really loved the scene where Sherry was helping Josephine get ready for her date. It was the first time Sherry met Francine, who was not very pleased to see her, especially in such a revealing top. Sherry was doing Josephine's hair, and she wins over Francine by talking about Frank Sinatra. I thought Sherry was a hilarious character; she had all these insane stories that she didn't seem to know were crazy. But she is also a really sad person. She's been betrayed so many times and she doesn't get to spend much time with her kid. She is disappointed in herself and she wants another chance with another guy, but it is very hard for her. I think she is a really interesting character who should have her own spinoff series. I don't think she is a bad influence. It is weird because she doesn't make a lot of smart decisions, but she knows how to have a good time and is learning to be confident in herself and Josephine really needs that. She is also a very caring person. She ends up being a really good friend who is willing to give up something she wants for her friend.

Francine and Josephine had a very difficult relationship. Francine thought that Josephine was "the nice girl" and wanted to keep her that way. It is a very teenage drama about a 30 year old. That was a very new concept, and I really liked that. Francine doesn't want her daughter to have any fun or go out to any clubs even though she is a grownup. Francine is also claiming to be very sick, but her daughter doesn't believe her anymore. Josephine is still trying to help her, but her mom doesn't realize that this wasn't really Josephine's plan for her own life. The sad thing is that they seem to really love each other; they just have a difficult relationship because they aren't the same kind of person. Or at least Josephine doesn't want to be like her mother, even though she might kind of be like her. She's mad at her mom because she feels like her mom is taking advantage of her. Francine wishes that her daughter would spend more time with her and confide in her, but she doesn't know how to express that to her now. She keeps talking about ice cream, and that's not something that appeals to Josephine every night now because she is a grownup. So Francine ends up nagging her almost, and then Josephine ends up resenting her. And when Sherry has a problem, Francine is able to do for her what she should be doing for Josephine, which is comforting her and helping her when she needs it. Francine can be the mom Josephine wants her to be, but just not for Josephine because their relationship is too damaged.

Donny and Josephine have this really adorably awkward relationship. They both bond over feeling like failures, which might not be the best premise for a relationship. They are both pretty desperate for attention and for love. He starts to win you over when he talks about making dinner for her sometime. But he has a lot of secrets. He also seems scared to be alone because he was married for a really long time. And now that he is dating again, he is kind of terrified to make anything official in case his wife wants to get back together, which is really sad. But he keeps leading Josephine on and telling her things that mean a lot to her, but don't mean the same thing to him. I think he is a really complicated and strange character. You don't get to know a lot about him until near the end of the play. He is an interesting character because at first he just seems like the "prize" the lead character is going to get, and in a lot of movies and plays that role is a woman. The trope is usually somebody seeing the "prize" and being like, "I'll never be able to be with them" but then at the end they get together and you usually don't learn anything about the "prize." In this play, you actually get to learn the dark things about the "prize," and not just view this person as an object.

People who would like this show are people who like complicated "prizes," obliviously insane stories, and ice cream with your mom. I think people should go see this show. I liked how it played with the high school drama idea and turned it into something new. I really liked it.

Photos: Michael Brosilow

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