By Mark Schultz
Directed by Joanie Schultz
At Steep Theatre
Gruesome dark comedy an upsetting look at teenage girl’s playing out her grief
When Charlotte( Caroline Neff) loses her beautiful mother, her grief-stricken father, Harry (Peter Moore) coldly tells her that she is a pimple-faced ugly girl incapable of being loved by anyone. Charlotte begins to retreat into a world of fantasies including the invention of a best friend Heather (Katy Boza) who teaches Charlotte the ways to beauty and glamor. Sexy dress and product fuel Charlotte. She wants to be like Helen of Troy and have men fighting over her.
She gets rejected as unlovable (and unlikable) by her father, her acquaintance, Franklin (Brandon J. Thompson) and ultimately by her high school councilor gary (Michael Salinas). Charlotte states that she wants to have sex and she asks Franklin if he wants to have sex with her. He tells her ‘no.’ She begs Freddie (Nick Horst), a macho football player for her to give him oral sex. She also tells her school councilor that she wants to become a porn star and she asks for his help. The comedy here is quite dark and troublesome.
This is a disturbing play – one that shows a 15 year old being emotionally abused by her father; one that depicts a sexually frustrated teen performing fellatio with a reluctant boy. Charlotte demonstrates her personality disorders through sex, verbal cruelty by making up stories about being abused by her councilor and by tell Freddie that his cousin Franklin is gay. Neither story is true as Charlotte shows her manipulative side in her quest for love and glamor.
Caroline Neff gave a strong performance as Charlotte. We see both her innocent painful side as well as her naughty vicious side. Neff never flinches as she gave a scary look into teenage grief and the search for acceptance. Neff’s performance makes this show worth seeing. Peter Moore was also excellent as the cold, grief-stricken father. Be warned that graphic references and depiction of sex acts and violence occurs. The brutality of life strikes Charlotte who is incapable of coping. This is riveting theatre that will shake you to your core.
At Steep Theatre, 1115 W. Berwyn (next to the Redlin’s Berwyn stop), Chicago, IL, call 866-811-4111, www.steeptheatre.com, tickets $20 – $22, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, running time is 1 hour, 40 minutes without intermission.