a kate west review
by Judy Blume
directed/produced/adapted by Gerald McClanahan
the Sacred Fools Theater Company, 660 N. Heliotrope, Los Angeles 90004
Running June 12, 19, 26 only at 11 p.m., (310) 281-8337, www.SacredFools.org
Most Generation X-ers are very familiar with Judy Blume and her many popular novels depicting teenagers reveling in their overly dramatic angst and pain. The most supposedly controversial novel was “Forever,” which described a young girl losing her virginity in a fairly explicit manner. Many high school students spent part of their study hall secretly reading the forbidden book. Perusing the book as an adult, however, one finds it rather more innocuous than anything in today’s modern sexual world.
Producer/Director Gerald McClanahan must have come to the same conclusion and so created a parody of “Forever,” a book just begging for gentle ridicule. Now playing at The Sacred Fools Theater and part of their “Get Lit!” series, this new production of “Forever” is silly and fun but still fondly reminiscent of the earnestness of the novel.
Beginning at a modern party in the 90’s, the story is a flashback to the 70’s, a time of wanton sexual openness. Katherine Danziger (the winsome Stephanie Dees) struggles with the overwhelming decision of whether or not to lose her virginity to Michael (Chase Sprague). She is egged on by her friends and family, who take turns topping each other with sexual outrageousness. Her promiscuous parents, Roger and Diana (Drew Droege and Lori Funk), grope each other and everyone else in sight and have an unhealthy interest in their children’s sex lives. Classmate Artie (Andy Corren) struggles comically with latent homosexuality, while Jamie Danziger (Tabatha Hall) pines away for her sister’s boyfriend Michael, who keeps calling her Julie in a very Jan Brady pathetic sort of way (watch “The Brady Bunch Movie”).
Each scene is more outlandish than the next, exaggerating Judy Blume’s already melodramatic style in an amusingly satiric manner. Those familiar with the novel will appreciate the play the most, laughing at inside jokes such as the name ‘Ralph’ and the highlighting of various character traits like Katherine constantly storming out in a teen tantrum. Even if you have not read the book, you will enjoy the 70’s flashbacks, with the flamboyant costumes and dewily sentimental music. It would have been nice if the set and props reflected even more of the 70’s kitsch (where were the lava lamps?) although the fondue pots were plentiful. The general set is composed of simple brown stripes on boulder-type blocks which is definitely 70’s, yet perplexing in that it looks like a desert rather than someone’s house.
The acting is a bit uneven in general and it might have been funnier had the director cajoled his actors into being even more over the top; however, the overall impression is entertaining. Still it is obvious that McClanahan is quite fond of the material and the production sincere. Having only three performances in which to perfect their comedic timing (never an easy feat under any circumstances), any actors flubbing lines are to be forgiven. A fun evening out, it is worth attending and those of us from a certain generation will especially delight in the campiness and consequence-free frivolity of an era rife with comedic fodder.