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A CurtainUp Review
Lost Girls
"I should be the cop. Somebody get me a fucking donut."— Linda
Amy Frear, Molly Ward, Sean Bradley (Photo credit: Paola Nogueras)
The main room in a very small plain house is halfheartedly decorated for Christmas. The stage set looks way too small to accommodate a play with six actors. But scenic designer Colin McIlvaine, like the playwright, has tricks up his sleeve. Heavy snow of a Nor'easter beats on the front door's windowpanes. Maggie lives here with her daughter Erica and her lazy, but maybe caring mother, Linda. A losing pattern has been set: Like her mother and grandmother before her, Maggie had her baby way too young.

On this snowy morning everything is piling up on Maggie. Her car is missing, so she can't get to work. Behind on her mortgage and electric bill, she's likely to be fired if she doesn't somehow get to the outlet where she's employed. She calls her boss to explain: "My car was stolen…I don't know. Some cocksucker wanted a 2002 Honda Accord." Her mother suggests that she call "you know-who." That's Lou, her ex, who has since gone from beat cop to Statie. Maggie retorts with a reflex to their family expletives: "I don't care if he pulls up in a Snowcat with a working fucking Jacuzzi, I'm done with that prick." Lou shows up with Penny, his wife of two years, whom Maggie labels "a boring fuckin' retard." Then it's discovered that not only the car, but Maggie and Lou's teenage daughter, Erica, has gone missing in the storm. And things go from bad to worse.

Elsewhere, a young girl and a charmingly insecure boy take refuge in a cheap motel, closed off from the world. The girl had asked him to drive her someplace she shouldn't be going to meet a man she shouldn't be seeing. The boy agreed to do it. He tells her that he has loved her ever since second grade. "When I see you it's like chewing on electric cables." When she gets past her unrelenting sarcasm and warms to his genuineness, her chronic anger gives way to other things on their young minds. This is the first real warmth we've seen, although they are too young, their love and trust provide a ray of hope.

Back at Maggie's house there's word of a serious accident out on the highway… and Erica isn't home yet. Under the direction of Joe Canuso, something that started out entertainingly bad-mouthed, and seemingly formulaic-- is digging in and finding its depth. I'd encourage audiences to keep attuned, so they won't be scrambling later to figure things out.

The choice of actors is brilliant. Molly Ward's Maggie rages stronger than the storm, her hard crust smothering her given-up, hopeless heart. Cast against type, classy Catharine Slusar is mom (Linda), a mouthy comic slob treasure who slays, even with her tame lines like, "I should be the cop. Somebody get me a fucking donut." [The family's appallingly priceless language

recalls the flavor of an Exile favorite playwright, Bruce Graham.] Sean Bradley handily negotiates his Lou, an exasperated ex-husband, worried father, near-newlywed, and cop with problems and a soft spot. Amy Frear, totally believable as religious, mild-mannered Penny, is stronger than she looks. Susanne Collins is utterly assured as an aggravating and irritating lost teenage soul who masks her problems. And Trevor William Fayle's “boy” hath charms that soothe the savage breast. They all employ good and not-too-intrusive regional New England accents.

This compact, tightly plotted work sticks to its immediate concerns about a desperate, damaged family and doesn't attempt to make speeches. But its resonances go beyond that, and the larger picture of the working poor hovers over Lost Girls like a dark political cloud

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Lost Girls by John Pollono
Directed by Founding Artistic Director Joe Canuso

Cast: Sean Bradley, Susanne Collins, Trevor William Fayle, Amy Frear, Catharine Slusar, Molly Ward
Scenic Design: Colin McIlvaine
Lighting Design: Thom Weaver
Costume Design: Katherine Fritz
Composer and Sound Design: Elizabeth Atkinson
Dialect Coach: Peter Schmitz
Feb 16 – March 12, 2017
90 minutes with no intermission
Reviewed by Kathryn Osenlund based on 02/26/2017 performance. Theatre Exile Studio X (1340 S. 13th St. Philadelphia)

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