In the opening moments of “The Pages of My Diary I’d Rather Not Read,” with the Dave Matthews Band playing in the background, a spotlight shines on three diaries. Soon, three women enter and take up their private journals, and for the rest of the evening they provide us with a glimpse into their personal thoughts. Sometimes ranting about pet peeves, often pining after lost loves and eventually revealing a deep loneliness, the characters in Eydie Faye’s work provide some memorably humorous lines and gradually reveal some darker, richer complexities, although the conceit as a whole never quite comes to life.
Work ultimately isn’t so much a full-fledged play as it is three one-person performances designed to flow together around a single theme — that of the lives of single women. In a well-executed production directed by Richard Hess, “The Pages of My Diary” becomes a series of fast-paced, interwoven monologues, delivered with sharp timing and a sense of depth by the three performers, led by playwright Faye.
Faye embodies Esther, a Jewish struggling actor with a sharp tongue and a touch of a shopping addiction. She dreams of landing a role on “Law and Order” while she entertains herself during deadly dull days working as a temp. She’s certainly the most fully developed character of the three, and appropriately spends most of her time center stage on the bare-bones set, enlivening the play with her spurts of anger masquerading as philosophical observations.
The other two characters are far sketchier and broader. Marissa Manzanares plays Ivy, a well-dressed, high-powered executive. Betsie Devan portrays the ever-smiling Jane, who keeps her pearly whites in a posture of pleasantry even as she spits out venomous insults about bad lovers and anyone who would purchase a yellow Lexus.
The play’s at its best when we get the sense of unencumbered, stream-of-consciousness thought, the kind of unedited, politically incorrect opinion that can only be voiced safely in a private diary. Arguably the funniest line comes from Esther, who rants about wealthy folks by praising them for having roof racks on their cars “because you might need to take the maid to the bus stop.” It’s angry and exaggerated, and probably an expression of jealousy as much as disdain. It’s also very funny, something Sam Kinison might have said.
As the play goes on, Faye peels away the layers of her characters to expose their sadder sides. Even here, there’s political incorrectness at work — though they know they shouldn’t, these women all define their lives based on men, and mostly based on the fact that they don’t have a man. Although marketed as a flat-out comedy, the work is really structured as a drama, as each of these characters go from expressions of anger to downright sadness by the end.
Faye shows genuine talent as a writer, weaving in different subject matter — food, clothes, guys — in chunks, and delaying the character revelations effectively. She’s written material for a phenomenal, original standup act, but she hasn’t yet found the true voice of a dramatist. There’s an element of monotony here, with the characters talking to the audience and never engaging with each other or with anyone else. Of course, that’s part of the point, but it also keeps the diary entries from acting in concert with the external lives these women are living, which would bring these secretive thoughts far greater irony and depth.