What Every Girl Should Know...An Ode to Judy Blume | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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What Every Girl Should Know...An Ode to Judy Blume

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WHAT EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW...AN ODE TO JUDY BLUME, Annoyance Theatre. With an odd combination of tongue-in-cheek cynicism and genuine admiration, adapter-director Susan Messing stages three coming-of-age stories by Judy Blume, novelist for the pubescent reader. Aided by fellow adapter Mary Scruggs, Messing preserves the novels' reassuring, perky tone, most notably that of the classic Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, which anticipates breast development and menarche. The other stories include a goofy, graphic tale of a teen's first sexual experiences and a narrative about peer pressure and vanity.

The three leads--Dana Goodman, Julia Wolov, and Christina Gausas--are consistently and marvelously teenlike, awkward and impulsive. They give the characters' gawky infomercial-style inner dialogues an unflappable sincerity, which adds to the humor. Still, this isn't a show for kids, thanks to the running vulgar gags typical of the company--essentially a bone tossed to the Annoyance's beer-chugging frat-party fans. Unfortunately Messing's satire is dulled by such gestures as casting a buxom woman as a flat-chested preteen (she all but bares her breasts) and sprinkling the audience with a squirt-gun dildo. Such choices undercut the clever moments parodying Blume's style and sentimentality. Still, if you can tolerate the cigarette smoke that fills the poorly ventilated theater within ten minutes of curtain, What Every Girl Should Know is a lot of fun.

--Carol Burbank

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