nytheatre.com review by Julie Congress
Pure tells the story of Dot, a privileged, materialistic
sixteen-year-old who has a near-fatal car accident. Dot attributes her
survival to having been chosen by God and therefore decides to live the
life of a saint—she stops eating, she gets rid of all her possessions,
she cuts off all her hair, and she starts to speak out against all those
things she once thought important. As her first crusade, Dot vows to
have everyone in town boycott a concert by a popular band, thus
canceling the performance.
August 15, 2002
Expertly directed by Mary Catherine Burke, Pure has a hardworking and exceptional cast. Kate Downing brings Dot to life, making a character that seems improbable into a very plausible person. Julie Ann Williams and Stephen Douglas Wood play Dot’s worried but supportive parents, while David Wylie is her wacky, caring, dare-devil younger brother. As Dot’s best friend Jo, Fay Wolf, is neithercliche nor one-dimensional, despite a tendency to scream and say “Oh my God!” a lot. Finally, Spencer Driggers is Garnett, lead singer of the band Dot is boycotting, playing both the sexy, depraved English superstar of Dot’s imagination, as well as the much more down-to-earth, somewhat moral musician. All of the actors are highly talented and really bring the play to life.
The script of Pure still needs some work, though it has a great deal of potential. The concept is a very interesting one, but the writing could be sharper and the ending feels too sudden. Also, the play overlooks one very important aspect of Dot’s new life. We learn what she is fighting against, but we never know what positive things she is going to do. All of the saints Dot talks about went out and fed the hungry, or nursed the sick, or worked for other humanitarian causes, but it’s unclear what, if anything, Dot will do to help society. It may be that the playwright, Mat Stuart, has done this intentionally, showing the audience that Dot really doesn’t have what it takes to be a saint, however, I am inclined to think that is not the case.
Despite a few flaws, Pure is a very well-done, very interesting play that really deserves to be seen.