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When your boyfriend is missing and no one will believe you actually have a boyfriend, how do you go about tracking him down?  That’s the driving question in Larry Kunofsky’s new play Your Boyfriend May be Imaginary. Marci (Darcy Fowler) has come to a party given by her zany friend Cassandra (Risa Sarachan) in order to find a girl named Beth (Kirsten Hopkins), because Beth is roommates with Toddwhatshisname (Debargo Sanyal), who knows someone who knows someone who might be able to track down Marci’s boyfriend. At the party (to which she has not been invited though everyone is glad to see her), Marci runs into her good friend Denise (Maya Lawson); her friends are reluctant to help her both because of Denise’s obvious but sublimated crush on Marci, and because of an incident in the past when Marci was obsessed with and possibly dating, possibly stalking Hunky Dave (Quinlan Corbett); her friends treat her like she’s lost her mind. And perhaps Marci has, a little. On her quest to discover her boyfriend’s whereabouts, dressed in what she slept in the night before (which is also what she wore the day before), she goes from party to party, always hazily insisting “I’m not here”. Her friends are superficial and concerned with little except their image, schadenfreude, and useless gestures of sympathy (in an inspired moment, Cassandra gives Marci a lamp that she’d once admired, which Marci then has to schlep around with her the rest of the night).

The play delves hilariously and touchingly into the sometimes painful loneliness of party culture and big city life.  Marci is an eternal outsider who doesn’t understand the etiquette required of her in most any situation, she doesn’t have a cellphone, and worst of all she can’t gloss over the difficult parts of her life to put on a happy face as her friends do, which frequently makes her the only sane person onstage. The writing and wit is razor-sharp through most of the play, but once the major question is resolved, the playwright has saddled this peppy and  viscerally exciting play with a somewhat depressing anticlimax of a final scene, which left the audience a bit puzzled.

The cast is great. Fowler is wonderful as Marci, constantly befuddled as to why no one will believe her or let her just get on with her life. Both desiring and disdaining the approval of her friends- her friends always say they’re thrilled to have her at their parties, even if they didn’t invite her- she maintains her untouched facade.  Sarachan is hilarious as Cassandra, constantly posing and preening for her party guests and the audience, even while having a conversation with other people onstage, and at a touching loss when these tactics stop working for her. Lawson gives a perfectly uncomfortable performance as Denise who stays drunk enough to deny her lesbianism to herself but not to anyone else. Hopkins is delightfully dry as Beth. Sanyal is hilarious and horrifying as the over-the-top and out-of-control Toddwhatshisname. Corbett is a hot hoot as Hunky Dave, and is especially funny once left alone with Marci. Zach Evenson has some very sweet moments as Carl, a sincere straight guy lost at a party where he doesn’t know anyone, but is too polite to fend off the unwelcome advances of Toddwhatshisname. Jordan Mahone and Danielle Slavick as Paul Paul and Paula Paul, a couple who are holding a party to celebrate their divorce, are alternately smart and sad.  And there’s The Crowd: Geoffrey Hillback, Penny Middleton, and Kunal Prasad, who help (along with the others, when not onstage as characters) to fill in the background of every party scene in an ever-shifting blob of people who dance, take photographs of themselves with their cellphones, and generally fail to honestly connect with anyone.

Meg Sturiano’s direction is hip and keeps the energy moving, constantly shifting people and things around in what seems an intentionally  confusing and alienating never-ending party; as Sound Designer, she has also arranged a perfect medley of pop hits that underscore and complement the action.  Kyle Dixon’s scenic design is minimalist, but wonderfully evocative and functional, and Grant Wilcoxen’s lighting is great.

Larry Kunofsky’s Your Boyfriend May Be Imaginary,presented by Horse Trade Theater Group and The Management at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A), April 5-28, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm

Photo of the cast by Meg Sturiano

Regional Awards

From This Author - Duncan Pflaster