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A CurtainUp Review
All the Fine Boys

I'm excited to have a birthday party but getting older? I don't know— Jenny

I know what you mean. Like, sometimes I think, we'll never ever be younger. — Emily
All the Fine Boys
Isabelle Fuhrman and Abigail Breslin (photo: Monique Carboni)
If the name Abigail Breslin evokes visions of that adorable Olive in Little Miss Sunshine, you'll be shocked that she's twenty-one, with a resume that includes more films and a Broadway turn as young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker. But Erica Schmidt's All the Fine Boys has rolled back the clock: Both Breslin and 20-year-old Isabelle Fuhrman are 14-year-olds who can't wait to leave Middle School behind — they also seem ready to give up their virginity.

Fuhrman's Emily is ready to bestow what she an Jenny still refer to as "it" as a gift to Adam (Alex Wolff). That's the guitar strumming high school senior who seems smart and glamorous to Emily but isn't all that "fine" a boy in the long run. Joseph (Joe Tippett), Jenny's pick for her first sexual adventure, isn't even a boy but a 28-year-old man she met at Sunday church services.

All four actors give solid performances. Breslin and Fuhrman manage to look and sound young enough to be convincing 14-year-old best friends obviously too ready to make bad choices. Adam Wolff captures the humor, smart-alecky, bravado and wistfulness of the high school senior class star done in by his charm and sex appeal. It's his character who comes closest to this working as a wistful group portrait of lost innocence and dreams.

Joe Tippett is excellent as the man who should know better than to involve himself in a Lolita situation. Despite the strong creep element in his performance, Tippett does lets us see Joseph as a grown-up example of how wrong paths taken in adolescence (especially by those raised in safe but dull American suburbs) tends to result in wasted potential and, in Joseph's case, serious emotional dysfunction.

Jenny isn't your typical victim, or Joseph your typical sexual predator. Yet, there's no getting away from the that despite the lurid sensationalism of their relationship, perhaps because of it, it is totally lacking in suspense. When Jenny provocatively tells Joseph I think I know what's going to happen with us" so do we — in fact, a lot more so than she does.

Unfortunately Erica Schmidt also wastes the potential to make All the Fine Boys a compelling modern American Tragedy. Instead the situations she has put her characters in are way too predictably developed, and except for a few scenes, more unpleasant than absorbing to watch. The final meetup between Emily and Adam had me wondering if this might not have been a more meaningful and memorable play as a two-hander focusing on their struggle to hold on to a hopeful future.

All the Fine Boys does fit the The New Group's taste for venturing into dark, provocative territory. Too bad it's dark but not provocative enough.

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All the Fine Boys
Written and directed by Erica Schmidt
Cast: Abigail Breslin (Jenny), Isabelle Fuhrman (Emily), Joe Tippett (Joseph), Alex Wolff (Adam)
Set designer: Amy Rubin
Costume designer: Tom Broeker
Lighting designer: Jeff Croiter
Sound designer: Bart Fasbender
Movement: Lorenzo Pisoni
Stage Manager: Jillian Oliver
Running Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, no intermission
The New Group at Pershing Square Signature Center
From 2/14/17, opening 3/01/17; closing 3/26/17
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer at 2/28 press preview

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