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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 26, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 48
Excellent actors wasted in sluggish Vestal Virgins
Arts & Entertainment
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Excellent actors wasted in sluggish Vestal Virgins

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Vestal Virgins
Theater Schmeater
Through December 18


The new play Vestal Virgins, now presenting at Theater Schmeater, is billed as a comedy. Marcy Rodenborn's script starts with a faux teen virgin sensation singing songs about virginity as she flirts with the audience. She sings badly and vamps embarrassingly, and you could start wondering if the play is going to be similar to Pageant Play, which recently skewered the beauty pageant industry. It looks like it's going to make fun of the virginity movement, which could be fun. But it doesn't, and it's not.

Then we meet two original members of the band Vestal Virgins, who are has-beens from the '80s punk rock era. Virgin member Tsarina is wishing for a comeback. Being a single act, rather than a group, doesn't seem to faze her, nor does it seem to matter that she never displays any new material. The main reason she seems to want this come back is because they are apparently all out of money and she's looking for some fast cash.

Tsarina (Marty Mukhalian) lives with Miss Clitty (Karen Jo Fairbrook), an aging drummer who seems incapable of doing anything else, and a boy toy played stereotypically by Ben Burris. Besides waiting for people to show up at the door, no one seems to actually do anything in the house, except have sex and drum. Tsarina's story does include a history of heroin usage (which she finally kicked) that gives her character a bit of pathos.

Teen virgin Little Nannakin (Samie Detzer) has decided that she wants to sample one of Vestal Virgins' songs and has manipulated her agent into going after it for her. Matthew Middleton plays what is supposed to be a hard-bitten, experienced music agent, but he looks totally befuddled by Nannakin.

Tsarina doesn't jump at the chance. Nannakin tries to spy on her with the head of her fan club, a 31-year-old virgin (Terri Weagant), and it turns out that Nannakin really wants to find out if any of the members of Vestal Virgins is her biological mother. Boy toy's mother shows up to find him and it turns out that she was a Virgins superfan in her day and loved Tsarina, but was pushed away by heroin-fueled issues.

A reconciliation between fan Olivia (Frances Hearn) and Tsarina is the best moment of the play, where real women with real emotions take time to reconnect. If all the farcical plot issues were stripped and the play were to focus on an aspect of growing up and getting through by showing changes in these two women, it might make for an interesting play.

There are some excellent actors in this production, but their talents are sorely wasted. Director Douglas Staley lets the pace of the first act get sluggish and deflated. The revelations of who is parent to whom at the end are outlandish and biologically virtually impossible. And it's really just not funny. The best bet is to let these Virgins stay in the '80s, when they were hot.

For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call 206-324-5801, or

http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/123219 or 800-838-3006.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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