The Adventures of Boy and Girl
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
August 17, 2013
The main reason to see The Adventures of Boy and Girl, a new short play at FringeNYC this year, is to make the acquaintance of Matthew Goodrich, the likable, good-natured, and very funny young actor who plays one of the title characters. Goodrich's bio reveals that during this past Broadway season he covered a total of five roles in Picnic and The Nance; expect to see him originating some roles of his own in the future.
His appearance here is a boon for playwrights Alec Grossman and Rachel Kaly. Adventures is very slight: just 35 minutes in length, closer to the size of a sitcom episode than a full-length play. And sitcom is what it constantly feels like, in its recounting of the ups and downs of the relationship between Rick and Trish, a pair of remarkably callow people who seemingly have nothing in common yet inexplicably remain together for four years. The script, which was written on Facebook according to the FringeNYC Program Guide, feels like two standup routines grafted together. Most of the dialog is direct address (giving the characters few opportunities to interact with one another) and consists of short jokey anecdotes and one-liners. The emphasis is on trying to get the audience to laugh rather than building characters who are three-dimensional and believable. The lack of telling details—what do these people do for a living? what hobbies/interests/beliefs do they have in common? what do they do when they're together?—seems likely a function of the inexperience of the two authors, theatrical and otherwise: he studies Government and American Studies at Skidmore College, where he's a sophomore, and she's entering Wesleyan University as a freshman this fall. Their initiative and ability to find backers and a professional team to mount this play is commendable, but the naivete at the root of the piece is pretty evident.
It might feel sweet if the play didn't have so much unpleasantness in it: the unusual family situations of both characters for example (her parents are gay, his are African American) become the butt of cheap, borderline offensive gags. In fact, just about everything we learn about Rick and Trish makes them seem mean, petty, and immature.
Director Patrick Vassel keeps things moving giddily and engagingly, giving his actors stuff to do all the time that keeps our interest from flagging. And Goodrich is so affable and enjoyable as Rick that we root for him despite the fact that he's pretty much a vain, self-involved jerk (albeit one with, in true sitcom fashion, a heart of gold). Margy Love, who plays Trish, came across to me mostly as abrasive (when I could hear her, which was only about half the time; if Goodrich can make himself understood in the relatively intimate Kraine Theatre even when facing upstage, then so should she).