Maybe I would have reacted less harshly to this new play at The New Group had it not been the second play I had seen in a week dealing with inappropriate sex between adults and the underage. Maybe not. It is awful enough in its own right. We meet two 14-year-old girls, Jenny (Abigail Breslin, who played Little Miss Sunshine in the film) and Emily (Isabelle Fuhrman), hanging out in Jenny’s basement with a stack of videos for a sleepover. Although he play is set in 1980’s South Carolina, there is little sense of time or place. At least we are spared ersatz Southern accents. Their inane conversation drags on and on with he girls discussing the various boys at school, and Jenny observing that the ones Emily likes are beyond her reach. The play then alternates scenes of Emily and Adam (Alex Wolff), an artsy high school boy she has a crush on, with scenes of Jenny and Joseph (Joe Tippett, of Indian Summer and Familiar), a man twice her age that she inexplicably goes home with. One girl gets more than she set out for; the other gets less. The most glaring flaw in the play is the cartoonish depiction of Jenny as a grotesque figure with an unlimited appetite for junk food. The long scenes of her and Joseph are hard to watch. The staging is awkward with characters from the previous scene lingering on the set until after the next scene begins. It’s a stretch to believe the two women are teenagers, but that’s probably a blessing. I admire their gutsiness in taking on their roles. The set by Amy Rubin is appropriately ugly with dark deep-pile carpeting covering the floors and the walls and a much-used sofa. Tom Broecker’s costumes are apt. Playwright Erica Schmidt can’t blame the director for the outcome: she directed. Running time: one hour 40 minutes, no intermission.
NOTE: If the play weren’t bad enough, the seats in the Ford Studio at Signature Center are wood laminate with no upholstery.