Girls – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

You might think a play entitled “Girls” could be about a bevy of high schoolers debating the dating scene, or college gals weighing the benefits and obstacles of joining a sorority or sisters trying to establish a relationship with parents, classmates and the world. How wrong you would be. In this world premiere drama at the Yale Repertory Theatre until Saturday, October 26, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has taken a new look at Euripides’ ancient Greek tragedy “The Bacchae” and fashioned his own version of revenge and retribution.

On a forested woodland set lushly designed by Adam Rigg that resembles a well detailed diorama at the Peabody Museum, from which dinosaurs might emerge, we meet a disc jockey Deon, a determined Nicholas L. Ashe, who has a specific agenda in mind. He wants to welcome the women of the community to a dance marathon where inhibitions are forsaken and madness can prevail. As a stranger in their midst, he sets up his music to lure them into the park and watches what happens.

Formerly exiled to boarding schools, he is back with a purpose. Loudly playing his intoxicating and hypnotic songs, he encourages them to spin like whirling dervishes into a frenzy of passion. He knows one of them is guilty of causing his mother’s brutal death and is confident he can expose the perpetrator and enact his vengeance.

Meanwhile like a voyeur above the fray we find Theo who speaks to the world from his bedroom, live streaming, and interacting with his hippie grandfather Dada, Tom Nelis, and his blind friend, Haynes Thigpen, who also plays the sheriff and the cowherd who has lost his cows.

Also seeking and searching is Gaga, a focused and gun toting Jeanine Serralles, who wants to find her sisters but is easily seduced into malicious mischief. Armed and dangerous, Gaga is the antithesis of Asia, one of the many women who pepper the scene with monologues. Ayesha Jordan’s Asia provides much needed comic relief as she speaks non-stop about the difficulties of finding the perfect office chair, expanding and expounding on the theme with obvious delight and humor.

Clearly there will be no happy reunions here and the sound of gunfire is resolutely loud. With Raja Feather Kelly’s intense choreography and Lileana Blain-Cruz’s direction, “Girls” will echo for a long time in your questioning psyche.

For tickets, call the Yale Repertory Theatre at 203-432-1234 or online at www.yalerep.org The production will be held at the University Theatre, 222 York Street, New Haven.Performances are Tuesday to Saturday at 8 p.m., with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Let your imagination run wild as the passions soar and the music inspires madness .

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