Girl Gone, Speaking Ring Theatre, at the Chopin Theatre. Press materials call this Jacquelyn Reingold play “the story of a girl who befriends a stripper who teaches her empowerment.” Well, at the risk of being dismissed as one of the “narrow-minded feminists” busted in the play, I don’t see it–unless “empowerment” is now defined as seeking out danger and falling apart mentally. The girl, Tish (played by Morgan Reis with a convincing array of whiplash personality shifts), is so traumatized by the murder of her stripper pal Jean that she bullies, teases, and entraps suspects; meanwhile she’s also transformed into a mirror of the dead woman.
Through Tish’s self-destructive obsession and paranoia, Reingold gives voice to the terror of becoming a victim, which most women understand. But overall the play is unsatisfying. The relationship between Jean and Tish is unconvincing, and the script is unclear and short on character development–the powerful final scene between Tish and Jean’s boyfriend would resonate more if Sean Patrick Leonard had been given more to work with earlier in the play. And while setting the show in a topless club offers Reingold some opportunities for laughs and titillation–there’s a 30-minute preshow with hot dancing–the characters’ speeches on female sexuality and the art and legality of strip clubs disrupt the flow of a play that already seems 20 to 30 minutes too long.