BWW Review: I WANNA FUCKING TEAR YOU APART at Studio Theatre

BWW Review: I WANNA FUCKING TEAR YOU APART at Studio Theatreln the world premiere of I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart, playwright and director Morgan Gould explores a friendship between two people who aren't "normal."

Fat girl Sam (Nicole Spiezio) and gay guy Leo (Tommy Heleringer) live together in platonic, co-dependent bliss. They have their routines, TV shows, and Chinese orders. "Team FatGay" against the world! But life is never that simple and Sam and Leo are still growing up.

Their reality becomes strained the day Leo brings his "work wife" Chloe (the perky Anna O'Donoghue) home to meet his "home wife." O'Donoghue moves about the stage like a nervous cat, sliding up and down the furniture, crossing and uncrossing her skinny legs. Almost combatant in her unsolicited praise for Leo and Sam, Chloe rubs Sam in all the wrong places, a fact that mystifies Chloe who proclaims that people like her! At one point, Chloe even feels that it's necessary to insist that Sam isn't fat, a sore point for Sam and for Gould who makes her feelings plain: "I'm fat. That's who I am."

Leo is Sam's whole world. But is she his? In I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart, the stakes are higher than they appear.

The physical comedy is abundant and the high point of the performance. I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart begins and ends with some kind of dance. As a pre-amble to the performance proper, Leo and Sam perform a choreographed dance to the show's namesake "Tear You Apart" by She Wants Revenge. Halfway through the play, they reunite to perform a solid routine to Lady Gag's "Bad Romance." A bit on the nose, perhaps, but in these moments, Spiezio and Heleringer truly connect.

Spiezio and Heleringer settle into their characters after an awkward first scene. Gould's approximation of happy banter is strained. Her characters and her actors are at their authentic best when they yell and cry at each other, when they literally fucking tear each other apart. Heleringer's dynamism is a welcome contract to Spiezio's weary cynicism and dogged isolationism.

Set Designer Luciana Stecconi's set is a rather cutesy apartment, the heart of which is the couch from which Leo and Sam watch their beloved Grey's Anatomy. A great deal of attention went into the myriad of weird little touches, like fairy lights or a decapitated doll's head or a ball of caution tape, that make a set feel like a home.

The design team of Studio X collaborated to transform Studio Theatre's Stage 4 into something akin to a gay-man's wedding (which it is). A purple shimmer curtain disguises Leo and Sam's apartment and contributes to the party atmosphere. Sound Designer Justin Schmitz incorporates "I Put A Spell On You" from Hocus Pocus and the theme song to Downton Abbey to hint at upcoming drama. Schmitz's soundtrack is an amalgam of nostalgia and party tracks perfectly suited to the ups and downs of I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart.

Lighting Designer Andrew R. Cissna plays a series of projections that help to narrate the play and set a funky mood. Ivania Stack designed the costumes, a series of layered utilitarian basics which mark the passage of time.

I bet that Gould had a lot of fun writing and directing I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart. Her script is utterly relatable and highly adaptable, yet hardly predictable. And in this age of the 24-hour media frenzy, her references are remain fresh and relevant. All this boils down to a theater experience that is fun, if not exactly groundbreaking.

Running Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, no intermission

Advisory: Adult themes

I WANNA FUCKING TEAR YOU APART plays through February 19th at Studio Theatre, Studio X located at 1501 14th St NW, Washington, DC, 20005. For tickets call (202) 332-3300 or click here.

Photo credit: Nicole Spiezio and Tommy Heleringer in I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart. Photo: Teresa Wood.

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From This Author Jenny Minich

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