We have all had the experience of passing an attractive person on the street. While you or I might let the memory go after a minute or two, for Joe, she was the girl of his dreams and he becomes obsessed with finding her. Playwright Rand Higbee takes the idea to comic extremes in this likeable, two-actor A Girl Named Destiny making its premiere at Venus Theatre.
How obsessed is Joe? He is so smitten that everyone he sees looks like this girl – a nice comic device that has Ann Fraistat playing a variety of male roles – even his beer-drinking, urination-loving fishing buddy (“Are you saying I have boobs?”).
Another of those male supporting roles (played with charm and comic aplomb by Fraistat) is a police sketch artist. The lovesick Joe (D. Grant Cloyd) hires him to make a sketch of the woman to post around town to help him find her. Not an easy task when Joe describes her as having poetic eyes, a mesmerizing smile, and perfect breasts.
The search takes yet another comic twist when Joe is arrested while trying to find the girl and subjected to an extreme case of good cop/bad cop interrogation. It seems that his mystery girl Destiny has a more complicated life than Joe could ever have imagined.
To disclose any more of the plot would diminish the considerable fun you will have with this production. A Girl Named Destiny has the comic irreverence of a really good fringe festival work. The offbeat supporting characters are entertaining, often upstaging the leads. The dialogue is mostly clever and the plot takes some sharp turns that complicate this unusual romance.
Director Deborah Randall orchestrates some clever staging of the work given the limitations of the black box performance space. The play makes an economical use of props just right for realizing the comic possibilities of each scene.
Fraistat and Cloyd (sounds like a comedy team) turn in skilled portrayals, and seem to be having fun with the roles. Cloyd makes the lovesick Joe work as well as can be expected, but really shines as Destiny’s lazy, passive-aggressive boyfriend and her southern-fried BFF Betty. Fraistat is as skilled as Destiny but is outstanding at playing the comedic possibilities in her cross-gender characterizations.
Like most new plays, A Girl Named Destiny could use a little polishing. It’s hard to stay invested in a relationship based upon a wordless street meeting. There are a couple of plot inconsistencies and the ending feels more convenient than convincing.
Ultimately, the test of a play like A Girl Named Destiny is relatively simple. Did you have a good time and did it make you laugh? You would have to be a tremendous grouch not to enjoy the simple charms of A Girl Named Destiny at Venus Theatre.
A Girl Named Destiny runs thru April 14, 2012 at Venus Theatre Play Shack, 21 C Street, Laurel, MD.
A Girl Named Destiny
by Rand Higbee
Directed by Deborah Randall
Produced by Venus Theatre
Reviewed by Steven McKnight
Running time: 1 hour 45 minutes (one intermission)