Some Girls

Guy, now in his early forties, has a habit of loving and leaving his women. He holds out promises of long-term commitment but tends to vanish when things get serious or difficult. Shortly before his planned marriage to an almost-23-year-old nurse, he decides to look up four of his past paramours and set things right with them. At least, that's his stated motivation. Actually, he's sort of apologizing, sort of feeding his ego by finding out if he really mattered to these women, sort of checking to make sure he hasn't missed the right one, and sort of collecting data for his blossoming career as a writer: He has a short story in the New Yorker and a request for another from Esquire.

Some Girls is set in four hotel rooms in four cities (the meticulous and humorously detailed set here is by Brian Miller). The joke is that all these rooms are identical, except for the title of the city magazine on the generic desk and a slightly different characterless flower painting on the wall. The women with whom Guy has his assignations could have come from central casting. There's the high-school sweetheart who never got over him, and the sexy free spirit who believes she dumped him but who also never fully recovered from their affair. The females we meet in the second act — a spirited doctor, and a professor with whom Guy dallied when he was a graduate student and who was (and still is) married — have a bit more spine. They may have been hurt by Guy, but they've damn well gotten their lives together. Every one of these women exacts some form of revenge, whether minor or a bit more significant.

Playwright Neil LaBute is known for his penetrating and invigorating nastiness. He is the creator of the film In the Company of Men, in which he revealed the self-absorption and casual misogyny of a group of successful businessmen. In his play The Mercy Seat, the male protagonist, an executive with an office at the World Trade Center, attempts to use the confusion surrounding 9/11 to run off with his mistress — an equally callous plotter — leaving his wife and children to assume he is dead. But though Some Girls carries a bit of a sting, it's not particularly shocking — more like a series of Sex and the City episodes, if you can imagine them being smarter and tougher. Guy's generic name is intentional; in the London production, the protagonist was called "Man." Perhaps LaBute means Guy's bad ways to seem more heinous to us than they do, but when his final ex-sweetheart, Bobbi, compares him to Pol Pot and Robert Oppenheimer, shooting the epithets "assassin" and "emotional terrorist" at him, you can't help feeling that she's gone way overboard.

Still, if Some Girls is not particularly deep, it is a very entertaining representation of the daunting, painful and exciting cha-cha between attraction and repulsion danced by courting couples. Jono Waldman makes Guy seductive and revolting by turns, a smooth operator, vain and self-satisfied, periodically emitting loud, nervous spurts of laughter. As played by Emily Paton Davies, Lisa DeCaro, Janna Goodwin and Susan Scott, all the women are interesting; I particularly like Goodwin's clarity and composure as Lindsay.

Some Girls would make a great date for a very confident pair of lovers, and I'd love to hear their conversation in the car on the way home.

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Juliet Wittman is an investigative reporter and critic with a passion for theater, literature, social justice and food. She has reviewed theater for Westword for over a decade; for many years, she also reviewed memoirs for the Washington Post. She has won several journalism awards and published essays and short stories in literary magazines. Her novel, Stocker's Kitchen, can be obtained at select local bookstores and on Amazon.
Contact: Juliet Wittman