DESTINATION LOST, Breadline Theatre. "Fifteen gets you 20" goes the caveat against cozying up to minors. Eighteen-year-old Angela Marie Coffel wasn't just playing "kiss the salami" with two boys, 11 and 13, however--she was HIV-positive. Under Missouri law, that arguably made her a violent sexual predator, and she received an appropriately severe sentence.
Our culture has a tendency to romanticize statutory rape when the perpetrator is female--consider Mrs. Mackenzie's Beginner's Guide to the Blues, produced by Stage Left in 2002. Still, playwright Sara Berry Short has her work cut out for her in dramatizing this real-life story: it's difficult to evoke sympathy for a self-pitying young woman with a history of doing drugs and running with gangs who shows no remorse for her actions. When we meet her in 2001, "Angel" is about to learn the result of her appeal for release.
Though Angel led a hard life--she was abandoned by her dope-smoking father and beer-swilling mother and cohabited with an abusive boyfriend--it's hard to get past her lack of regret. The cast assembled by director Meg Blake for this Breadline production do their best to give warmth to Angel's more tender scenes--sharing a joint with her dad, for example, or being coached by her idealistic lawyer. In the end, however, we remain as unconvinced as the judge that this wayward child will have a productive future.