Laugh/Riot presents ‘Girl Gone’

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 at 5:11 PM
Laugh/Riot presents ‘Girl Gone’ by Anna Ashcraft
Contributed Photo

Laugh/Riot continues their fifth season with one of their most risqué shows in recent years. “Girl Gone” looks to be a dark, mysterious tale full of murder, drama, sex, nudity, intrigue and madness with, presumably, some needed comic relief added throughout.

The show will run Dec. 1-11 at Diebold Center for the Performing Arts at Edinboro University, with performances strictly for an audience 18 and older.

Written by Jacquelyn Reingold in 1995, “Girl Gone” focuses on two strippers and best friends named Jean and Tish. 

Rob Connick’s adaptation focuses on Jean (Julia Kramer), who is brutally murdered. Her best friend, Tish (Kayla Farinola), begins a perilous quest to find out who killed her friend. The murder and following investigation, which the cops are not helping with, begins to eat away at Tish, leading her to become unstable.

Mary-Kate Noonan plays a young Tish.

“The whole way the play is set up is it’s being narrated by Tish, the woman whose best friend was killed. It’s in real time, happening after she was killed, [and] she has flash backs of herself with Jean, when Jean was alive,” Noonan said.

“She’s going through her life trying to figure it out. The whole thing is basically a whirlwind in that you never know if you are in the past
or present, or what’s going to happen next. But then it sort of all comes together in a way that it’s like the end of a hurricane.”

Some of the people playing strippers in the show will be in bra and underwear, some topless, some with more conservative attire, while still embodying the tone. The stage will have a nightclub atmosphere with neon lights 

Montana Sertz, dancer number six, gave an interview regarding Connick’s costume choices, while wearing her choice of lingerie.

“I really love how Rob let all the dancers choose our own costumes. It was really our choice on what we wanted to wear; if we wanted to wear a bikini, that was fine, [and] if we wanted to be topless, that was fine. It was our choice and our creative decision based on what our dancers would dance to, and how our dancers would act.”

The cast consists of mostly women with three men. The male lead is Tish’s boyfriend, played by Mason Kuhr. Another male plays a prostitute, while the other plays a sax player at a nightclub and as Sertz describes him, is “probably the most mysterious of the men.”

Noonan described what herself, as an actor, is going through when performing in a play as dark as this one.

“I kiss someone who actually has a girlfriend in real life; it was something to get over. Now as we’ve all grown, I have no problem sitting directly next to one of the male cast members when we’re like just sitting in the audience, in full costume.”

Though the play is dark in nature, it’s not all serious. Noonan commented on the fact that Kuhr’s character, Danny, brings comic relief to the show.

“There’s nice points when there’s comic relief from Danny, Tish’s boyfriend. He’s so painstakingly awkward and he does a really nice strip tease in the show for his girlfriend. It’s hilarious. It’s a good show,” she said.

Connick commented on the nature of being an actor during a play like this. “Anyone can pretend to be mad; anger is the easier emotion for actors to get. Intimacy takes a lot more. This play is filled with it. All of these characters need to open up, really trust each other and be vulnerable to each other.”

Sertz talked about trust, as well. “They [male actors] have to trust the girls, and the girls really have to trust the guys. I think it was very comfortable right from the start. I think the boys have even become more comfortable being around the girls because we’ve all been kind of one big family. When you’re in this dark of a play, you have to really trust one another. I think the trust came pretty easily.”

Because the show features sexual conduct, nudity, violence, and graphic language, the show is the theatre’s first 18 and older show.

Connick mentioned the theatre put on “Bedtime Stories” last fall, with some shows being PG-13 and others 18 and older. However with a show like this, things can get complicated.

Connick spoke about how this is not a show for anyone under 18 because of the subject matter. “I don’t want to be responsible for telling someone how to parent, so we have decided to make it a hard 18 plus. Even if they (under 18) are comfortable seeing violence or nudity, these are subject topics that I don’t feel comfortable bringing up to kids.”

Noonan commented on the decision to have the show 18 and older. “This one just sort of demands it (18 and older); there’s nudity, there’s vulgar language, graphic talk — it’s definitely interesting, [and] it keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s extraordinarily shocking.”

When asked how he thinks the show will go, Connick said: “I think it will go over well. Right now, one of the things that I hear most often, in my generation and younger, is that theatre is boring. If you look at the types of things that we watch, it’s not what we think of when we think of traditional theatre.”

He continued: “We watch ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ things that have a little more of an edge to them. This play reminds me of those types of things; it’s that type of subject matter, and we’re showing that you can put it on stage. What’s uncomfortable watching those shows is magnified when the action is actually happening five feet away from you, instead of on a TV or on a film screen.”

Sertz managed to dig a good message out of the plot’s despair.

“It’s a really good show and I think it has a really good message at the end that you can really love someone and be so close to someone that when no one else cares about that person, you’re going to put your whole being into caring for that person. It’s a nice message in the end, even though it’s a rollercoaster.”

The show premieres Dec. 1 and run through Dec. 11, with shows Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. 

Anna Ashcraft is a Managing Editor of Arts for The Spectator.

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