I KNOW WHAT BOYS WANT
By PENNY JACKSON
March 28 – April 13, 2013
WorkShop Theater, 312 W. 36th Street, 4th Fl., NYC
Directed by JOAN KANE
Sets by STARLET JACOBS
Costumes by CAT FISHER
Lights by BRUCE A! KRAEMER
Sound by IAN WEHRLE
Stage Manager KIM MARIE JONES
Fight Choreographer ANDREW KENNETH MOSS
Press Representative SCOTTI RHODES
Sara Hogrefe, Dara O’ Brien, Janice Amano, Kimberly Diamond,
Lauren D. Salvo, Liam Rhodes, Teddy Lytle and Nick Vennekotter
Penny Jackson’s I KNOW WHAT BOYS WANT is a dramatic work that could have been ripped from recent headlines, and certainly takes a look at aspects of modern society that probably will not go away any time soon. The play tells a tale that we have seen in the real world all too often of late. Drunk and/or drugged female in a vulnerable position at a party, with a person she trusts (or is too incoherent to know the difference) and at the mercy of the unnoticed attendee who has a phone with video-taking capability right in his pocket.
In this scenario, some exceptionally privileged high school students in New York City with lofty college dreams have their plans derailed after Vicky (Sara Hogrefe) and Roger (Liam Rhodes) are filmed having sex at a party by jealous classmate Oliver (Nick Vennekotter). The video, captured by phone, is uploaded in a series of scenes and quickly becomes viral on porn sites. Vicky’s mother, Margaret (Dara O’Brien), is livid, the school is not supportive, and her friends Lin and Emma (Janice Amano and Kimberly Diamond) receive parental guidance to cut her off.
In I KNOW WHAT BOYS WANT Vicky is presented as an "it" girl surrounded by her ilk and the boys that find this requisite. As counterpoint, two students who are California transplants, Hannah (Lauren D. Salvo) and Ted (Teddy Lytle) act as both the moral compass and the social counterpoints to the "too cool for school" mentality that made the events at the party and the aftermath possible in the first place. What is never quite clear is what part, if any, Roger had in the plan to film at the party, if Vicky was drugged (and if so, by whom) and where Roger’s loyalties really lie. At most points of the play, he is unlikeable, but Vennekotter’s Oliver is the true villain and the actor plays his part with a smarmy, seedy sleaziness that makes Ms. Hogrefe’s vengeance as Vicky seem just. Hannah and Ted, who both do not mind, even when it is uncomfortable, challenging their peers, remind the audience that all is not lost, and both characters do so in small but memorable ways.
While I KNOW WHAT BOYS WANT makes the point that once out there the material filmed will never go away, there is also a push from mom for Vicky to get the phone the video is on and destroy it, ostensibly to prevent any additional footage from being uploaded. This seemed an odd assumption, even in fiction, because my first thought was that anyone who would have the capacity to first film and then release such footage most certainly would have already saved it on a computer or a drive. So, the phone becomes more of a symbol as a target for destruction. This is evident from the moment entering the theater, as the stage sets by Starlet Jacobs have the events unfold beneath a virtual sky of suspended cells phones.
Overall, I KNOW WHAT BOYS WANT is thought-provoking and timely. Unfortunately, there are no solutions to putting it all out there and regretting it later.
- Kessa De Santis -