The Catholic Girl's Guide to Losing Your Virginity - The American Society's Guide To Losing Your Culture

When my editor sent info my way regarding 'The Catholic Girl's Guide to Losing Your Virginity, ' and apprised me that the director, Richard E. Hess, had directed high-powered dramas such as Tony Kushner's, 'Angels in America,' ergo I envisioned  the new play to be an erudite,  passionate, wry, socio-politico analysis of Catholic culture in America' ' ' ..NOT!

Annie Hendy and David Zelina

Poor Richard Hess, oh, how the mighty have fallen!

Unfortunately, Mr. Hess must need to pay his house mortgage in a bad way because, once again, another seemingly talented American director has succumbed to this popular culture vogue that takes the audience down the merry road of bathroom humor, ethnic stereotypes, and mindless, oft crude, ad nauseum discussions of sex, sex, sex.   But then what can one expect in a culture that has deified Hugh Hefner, Larry Flynt, Howard Stern, Jenna Jameson,  Puff Daddy, and other such purveyors of populist mind junk?   In the process, so many substantive plays dealing with compelling, urgent, social themes or enlightening, historical lessons have been consigned to oblivion' .all in the name of profound, endless discussions/visuals concerning vaginas, penises, anuses, tits, and screwing.  

Annie Hendy and David Zelina

Well, the old adage in commercial theatrical circles is 'Give 'em what they want!'   And in the manner of a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you give the American public enough lowest common denominator fluff on a daily basis, then the net result is that, like rats trained in a Skinner Box, they will demand more and more and more.  The societal IQ drops with the absorption of each and every one of these 'plays,' which in most cases, are little more than collections of improv acting pieces, sewn together in a haphazard, random manner.   We have reached a point where the syntax of theater is becoming entirely extinct and it is rare today to find a new, contemporary play that provides any semblance of linear narrative.

Annie Hendy and David Zelina

So I would expect 'Catholic Girls' to be a big commercial success and, with the dollars flowing in, producer/writer/actress Annie Hendy should be able to buy her fantasy mansion on the hill.   The downside is that 'Catholic Girls' will not buy her respect in literate theater circles where the litmus test of quality transcends f-ck jokes and expedient caricatures.

Nor am I some kind of retro-Victorian prude.  I enjoy a good fart or sex joke as much as the next fellow.  In fact, the one line that drew the biggest laugh in the entire play, to wit:  'If you stick your finger up my ass, that will make me come!' had me chuckling too.   But, in my mind, the theater is drowning in these kinds of frat house punch lines.   It is nothing less than 'highbrow porno for the masses' masquerading as theater at a time when the public needs to withdraw from the party/orgy long enough to examine a litany of extremely crucial issues that, if not addressed soon, will leave us witnesses to the final decline phase of the Empire.   The best theater, even in terms of comedy, leads to epiphany, not simply a desire 'to whack off.'

Yet, I am not particularly sanguine about the resurrection of new epic American theater in my lifetime.   I would expect that 'Catholic Girl's' success will spawn yet another dip into the cultural swamp, featuring analogous derivatives such as' The Jewish Boy's Guide to Masturbation,' or 'The WASP's Guide to Doggie-Style Intercourse,' or maybe even 'The Hindu's Guide to Humping Holy Cows.'  Who knows what tawdry permutations may arise?

In any case, within its particular comic-trash genre, 'Catholic Girls' is one of the better paradigms.   Emulating mega-popular rock group Enigma, the play conjoins religion and sexual fantasy as a means of arousing the audience.   The singular highlight of the play happens to be actor David Zelina, a protean of astounding dimension.   He plays a wide variety of roles, from priest to fairy to bodybuilder, in a dexterous display of multiple schizophrenia that compares with some of the theater's legendary greats, most notably Zero Mostel and Peter Sellers.   Annie Hendy, the only other actor in the two-person performance, creates a likable, vulnerable protagonist whose libidinous musings will leave most male audience members 'experiencing wood.'

'The Catholic Girl's Guide to Losing Your Virginity'
Written and Produced by Annie Hendy
Directed by Richard E. Hess
Starring Annie Hendy and David Zelina
Hudson Guild Theater
6539 Santa Monica Blvd.
Hollywood, CA
January 25-March 1, 2006
Wednesdays at  8PM
Admission:  $12
Reservations:  (323) 960-7753
Online Ticketing:

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