Anatomy and Psychology

Soleil hates thongs. Devon can't stand to be objectified by her rugby-playing boyfriend but doesn't understand why her cousin Rebecca thinks she's such a prude. Rachel is hoping that the drastic, mood-altering side effects of her new birth-control regimen will soon wane so she and her boyfriend can wallow in the pleasure of unprotected sex. Elissa resents her father for being such a great role model.

And Jennifer is moments away from performing her first on-camera nude scene and needs her best friend, Katy, to support her decision to go through with it.

These women are angry. They are young, too. Some are clad in low-rise jeans, while others slink around the stage in miniskirts, corsets, and silk robes. Each one wears her emotional issues on her sleeve—or garter belt, as the case may be—and each one is a character in Matt Morillo's collection of monologues and one-acts, Angry Young Women in Low-Rise Jeans With High-Class Issues.

Devon Pipers acts with manic fervor as the reluctant Jennifer in the show's finale, "The Nude Scene." She preens for the camera like a ridiculous peacock before abruptly halting the production so she can down a few shots of whiskey to get comfortable. Her onscreen lover, Barry, spends time between takes pumping iron to ensure he appears plenty sweaty, while the second-rate director tries to keep the production from descending into mayhem as the understated cameraman Kristoff clashes with the overstated Katy.

"The Nude Scene" is brilliant. The stakes are set high from the outset, and Morillo's script keeps the audience guessing whether Jennifer will actually doff her top. Every flubbed take leads her closer to going all the way before ultimately finding yet another reason not to. First, Katy is running late, and Jennifer just can't do it without her friend's reassurance. Then Barry, played by a hilariously dull Major Dodge, manhandles Jen's breasts and whispers suggestive catchphrases in her ear.

From Thomas J. Pilutik's performance as hack director Spencer to Jessica Durdock's lusty interpretation of Katy and Jason Drumwright's mute-yet-furious Kristoff, the cast members who surround Pipers counterpoise each other perfectly. Different conflicts between different people arise at every turn in the script. Moments of calm are broken by outbursts of hysteria. One character storms onto the set the same moment another character storms off. Every joke is fast and funny, consistently topped by the gag that follows. It is nearly impossible to find a reason not to laugh at this ingenious farce.

Unfortunately, the same blitzkrieg attack isn't nearly as effective in the four shorts leading up to "The Nude Scene." Whereas Jennifer appears to be a conflicted and complex individual, the other women in Angry Young Women come across as erratic, one-dimensional figures.

As Soleil in "My Last Thong," Jessica Durdock cuts off her thong...while still wearing it. The daughter of hippies, Soleil finds thongs vulgar, sexist, and more than a little bit uncomfortable. Moreover, she can't believe her bra-burning mother could go from not shaving her armpits to trimming her bikini area and sporting a thong. She is disgusted that her 12-year old niece shaves her bikini area. And while Soleil does provide some amusing observations on women's body-maintenance routines, the monologue comes across as more of a rant than a character study. It isn't long before the monologue begins repeating its points, dulling the humor of jokes that weren't exactly side-splitters the first time around.

"Playtime in the Park" and "The Miseducation of Elissa" suffer from the same problems, repeating themselves frequently and airing complaints without any apparent purpose other than to complain. "Unprotected Sex" stands out somewhat from the others, but only because hockey fans Brian and Joe (Dodge and Thomas J. Pilutik, respectively) provide the audience with a reason to ignore the hormone-saturated caricature that is Rachel.

The cast also seems to be hyper-directed, gesticulating wildly and speeding through their dialogue without taking much time to even breathe between lines. As a result, the tongue-tied actors misspeak more than once.

Still, laughs are to be had throughout the production. Angry Young Women is an entertaining show, questioning the ideals of what women want to be, what men want women to be, and what both men and women are willing to do to get what they want. The first four skits prove to be a fun distraction, but "The Nude Scene" is worth the price of admission by itself, a truly great piece of theater.

Click for print friendly PDF version of this blog post