If you are a late-bloomer like myself, then you too will probably find a special place in your heart for Pico Playhouse’s latest production, Annie Hendy’s The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing You r Virginity. The two person show featuring writer / actress Annie Hendy as photographer Lizzy, a good Catholic girl who is finding it harder and harder to be good as she approaches her 25th birthday. She is constantly besieged with carnal desires and impure thoughts that she has successfully fought off thusfar. But it’s getting harder for Lizzy to tell each new guy, “I want to wait until I’m married.”
However, Lizzy feels newly liberated when she learns that her priest is arrested for solicitation. If he can break the rules a little, ok a lot, then surely she can too. And thus, 25 days before her 25th birthday, she embarks on a mission it lose her virginity, by any means necessary. It’s off to Sports bars and church mixers and Vegas in search of the one on whom she will unload her virginity.
But Catholic Girl’s Guide is more than the usual rump down the road of blind dates that go wrong. The play actually examines the idea that who one chooses to pursue and who one “passes” on, say a great deal about who we think we are as a person. The play makes an insightful mature turn to comment on the idea that who we reject usually has as much to do with our own subconscious insecurities as it does with any potential partner’s obvious incompatibilities.
Hendy’s Lizzy is extremely likable and slightly neurotic as she shatters the fourth wall to share exactly what’s on her mind at every moment with the audience. Lizzy is the quintessential voice of indecision for every girl that wonders. Should I, shouldn’t I? With whom and how do I find him. Her performance was both effervescent and enjoyable.
Cyrus Alexander is simply spectacular. Throughout the show, he is constantly making subtle wardrobe changes and coloring each new character with the finishing touch of distinct, defining body language. For 90 minutes, he plays and is Everyman in the show (and one nun who is dangerous with a rosary). Really Well Done.
I particularly enjoyed the segments featuring Lizzy’s relationship with both “The Cuddler” and her best friend “Jeremy”. The former is a baseball hat wearing, uber-affectionate single pediatrician who frequents sports bars; the latter is Lizzy’s best male upon whom she thinks she can just unload her virginity, in despite of a fairly serious relationship that he is in, but she refuses to acknowledge seriously. In these scenes, Hendy and Alexander’s chemistry is especially rich, giving us the best humorous and emotional moments of the piece. These intimate moments are a lovely compliment to the play’s prevailing comic tone.
It was love at first love for me with Tom Buderwitz's set design. The simply proscenium stage was lined with shelves of trinkets on both side. The obligatory Matt Damon shelf. Digital cameras, one still, one video set on each side of the set. A navy blue school uniform hangs conspicuously opposite a shelf of stuffed animals, remnants of the little girl that still lives inside her. The red 3-inch heels on the top shelf and the Like a Virgin tell of a good girl who wants to be bad.
The Bridget Jones Diary video: the clearest indicator of a girl looking for “movie love”. A blue screen is centered upstage awaits dreams to happen. And toss across the stage everywhere, fluffy white pillows. Silk pillows for elegance and sensuality. Cotton pillows for innocence and purity. One look at that set and I knew exactly who this play would be about.
The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity is a whimsical, sensitive piece about sex and identity and religion. It is running now through March 1st at the Pico Playhouse.
Showtime: Thursday, Friday & Saturday @ 8pm
Pico Playhouse10508 Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Reservations / information call: 310-491-5961