An Unhappy Woman

It would have been easy to accept that in today's stress-filled society, overworked and underloved single woman Gayle (Robin Johnson) could be reduced to a venom-spewing, gun-toting bundle of insecurity and angst. It is too bad that playwright Michael T. Folie stacks the deck even further against her by placing Gayle in a caricaturistic contemporary America where the government is attempting biochemical control of its citizens and terrorist gangs rule the streets. Who wouldn't be unhappy? Under Michael Cullen's facile direction, the six-member cast works very hard to bring some credibility to these goings-on but are ultimately defeated by Folie's pseudo-comic book adventures that neutralize the impact of a truly captivating character. The opening scene holds great comedic promise. Played to the acid-tongued, misanthropic hilt by Johnson (the popular traffic reporter on KFWB News Radio), Gayle is a self-admitted "raging bitch on wheels" who keeps the world at bay with her lacerating tongue and ready trigger finger.

With:
Robin Johnson (Gayle), Richard Ruyle (Hank), Madison Charap (Pearl), Brendan Broms (Gaylord), Julie Briggs (Marjorie), Van Stewman Jr. (Manuela).

She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart.

The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him.

Unfortunately, the romantic adventures of Gayle and Hank then get completely obliterated by the playwright’s sojourn into a U.S. government plot to control its disgruntled citizenry with a genetically engineered happiness drug.

As soon as Hank (a government operative) learns that Gayle’s nubile but dimwitted roommate, Pearl (Madison Charap), is eternally joyful, he whisks both ladies to Washington, D.C., in order to extract Pearl’s positive juices for the manufacture of the drug.

Along the way, this dubious plot is stirred by Pearl’s equally dense terrorist former boyfriend, Gaylord (Brendan Broms), Hank’s motherly but sinister boss, Marjorie (Julie Briggs), and Marjorie’s murderous cross-dressing henchman, Manuela (Van Stewman Jr.).

Briggs is excellent as the sweet-talking but utterly villainous agent in control of the government’s attitude-altering experiments. Also acquitting himself well is Stewman Jr. as the surly former Latino revolutionary who wants only to be accepted for the woman he knows he is. Charap is more cartoonish than believable as the all-too-willing Pearl. And Broms plays terrorist Gaylord at only one level: loud.

Director Cullen smartly keeps the action moving swiftly, utilizing Moving Arts’ extremely limited stage space and rudimentary production values to good effect. Assisting greatly is the atmospheric sound design of Rory Johnston.

An Unhappy Woman

Moving Arts; 29 seats; $14 top; Opened July 11, 1997

Production: Moving Arts presents a play in two acts by Michael T. Folie. Directed by Michael Cullen.

Creative: Sound, Rory Johnston. Opened July 11, 1997; reviewed Aug. 1; runs through Aug. 31. Running time: 2 hours.

Cast: Robin Johnson (Gayle), Richard Ruyle (Hank), Madison Charap (Pearl), Brendan Broms (Gaylord), Julie Briggs (Marjorie), Van Stewman Jr. (Manuela).

More Legit

  • Farinelli and the King Broadway

    Broadway Box Office: 'Farinelli and the King' Makes Royal Debut

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Downtown Race Riot review

    Off Broadway Review: Chloë Sevigny in 'Downtown Race Riot'

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Goats review

    London Theater Review: 'Goats'

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Describe the Night review

    Off Broadway Review: Rajiv Joseph's 'Describe the Night'

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Stagecraft podcast Julie Taymor David Henry

    Stagecraft Podcast: Julie Taymor, David Henry Hwang Talk 'M. Butterfly' and Gender in 2017

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Di Glazer

    ICM Names Di Glazer Co-Head of Theater Department

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

  • Broadway

    Broadway Producers Accuse Casting Directors of Conspiracy in New Lawsuit

    She is totally unprepared for the gentle, soft-spoken Hank (the wonderfully understated Richard Ruyle), who sails right over her barbed wire demeanor and into her heart. The interplay between the two is hilarious, as Hank woos, wines, dines and beds her much to Gayle’s bewildered consternation. She simply has no defenses against someone like him. […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content