Footlight Players offer up another gem as they kick off their official Late Night series with Howard Korder’s dark and twisted comedy, ‘Boys’ Life’. Director R.W. Smith does an fabulous job casting eight young actors who connect perfectly with this male journey from adolescence to manhood, with several speed bumps along the way.
Phil, Don, and Jack have been buddies for life where male bonding and acceptance are still much sought after rituals. A decade or more after college they are all still trying to figure out the meaning of life and male/female relationships. Each has taken a different course since being on their own, with one common factor remaining, they’ve never really grown up.
College of Charleston alum Christian Self is no stranger to the Footlight stage, having turned in very capable performances as Tom in ‘Fat Pig’, and as John in ‘The Lion In Winter’. Self is quite believable as Phil, a libido driven cad who is socially clumsy and overly sure about his allure with the ladies. When not trying to charm the opposite sex, Phil is totally aloof with his fellow mates.
Making his Footlight debut, Brent Fox is obnoxiously appealing as Jack, the lone married man among the trio. In an attempt to woo paramours Jack creates fantasy personas while courting a young jogger in the park. Jack is so frustrated with married life he resorts to using his buddies and even forgoes normal parenting skills to feed his sexual delusions.
Shawn Stoner does a stellar job filling the role of Don, a hyper active sex driven male who is not sure about anything but his impending promiscuity. Stoner is making his Charleston debut, and based on his performance he will no doubt find continued work in low country play houses. Most of the male bonding scenes take place in Don’s frat style apartment which leans toward some outrageous comedic banter.
Enter the ladies. Lauren Artesi is refreshing as Karen, a quick witted young lass who tries to stay one step ahead of smooth talking Phil. A New York City native, Artesi has proven her chops since relocating to Charleston. Last season she wowed audiences as Cecile in ‘Is He Dead’, and Dotty in Midtown Productions ‘Out of Sterno’. Artesi brings both moxie and naivety to the character.
Fellow College of Charleston graduate Abby Kammeraad-Campbell does a beautiful job as Maggie, an unsuspecting female jogger trying to re-evaluate her own life when she crosses paths with glib talking Jack. Whether she is worn down or just doesn’t care she decides a tryst with Jack might just the thing to cure her own monotony . She is just cavalier enough to play into Jack’s adulterous interlude.
Charleston native Anne Reid turns in a nice performance as Lisa, a self assured waitress who has her eye on Don. Reid and Stoner provide much of the innuendo social drama during their restaurant scene and when Lisa confronts Don about his one night stand.
Making their Charleston debuts Janet Bowler and Nthenya Ndunda turn in equally outstanding performances in supporting roles as objects of the men’s obsessions and or one night stands. Both do a remarkable task of adding dark humor, dialogue, and cynicism to a stage play that thrives on all three elements.
As so many plays are at Footlight, stage design was rudimentary with actors and crew easily assembling the décor for the next scene. Kudos to the behind the scenes crew. Customes and lighting were near perfect and the faint soundtrack that murmured in the back ground provided the feel of a younger generation stage play.
‘Boys’ Life’ is a unique play discovering the male psyche and the cast and crew at Footlight do justice to the original adaptation. Theatre goers beware, the play is rated R with enough F-bombs and sexual proclivity to shrill the faint of heart, but the dialogue easily complements the production.