Angry Young Teen-Age Girl Gang
nytheatre.com review by Maggie Cino
August 15, 2004
Angry Young Teen-Age Girl Gang has twists, turns, misplaced love, sex, drugs, incest, and forced prostitution. There are false identities, there are fallen nuns and naughty doctors, and there are even a couple of really good songs.
The setting is the 1950s. The basic plot is that Didi (Rebecca Marcotte), a "clean teen" with scholarly ambitions, is orphaned and sent to live with an indifferent aunt and a licentious uncle. One night her uncle tries to seduce her and her boyfriend proves a wimp, so she ends up hanging out with a bad seed named Reggie (Tamara Zook). Reggie gets into a hit-and-run accident and abandons Didi in the car. The police find her in there along with a bag of heroin, but Didi won't talk, so she’s sent to a prison for juvenile girls. Once she gets there, antics involving her fellow inmates, a nun, a warden, and the head of the prison ensue.
While all of this makes for an engaging two hours, a casting choice puts a ponderous twist on this fun and fast moving musical. Women play all the juvenile roles, while men play all of the adult roles. Hence it is impossible to avoid the Theme: women are imprisoned by men and need to break free and be themselves.
Happily, the actors all play their cross-gendered roles with truth and gusto. The acting, dancing, and singing are not polished, but everyone on stage is having such a good time it’s easy to enjoy the ride. And it's the actors’ belief in their parts that creates something interesting. They don't play for camp, so the outrageousness inherent in the script and the casting is often secondary to the character’s relationships. Hence, the play manages to create a world where gender is fluid and you never know who might fall in love.
Angry Young Teen-Age Girl Gang may not forever alter your views on male and female dynamics, but the absorbing plot, sexy themes, and enthusiastic cast make it two hours well-spent.