The title of Annie Hendy’s tale of a comely lass from the Midwest, transplanted to the “mean streets” of Manhattan, is misleading. In an exercise of gags over doctrine, “The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity” simply chronicles one callow young lady’s reservations about crossing over to womanhood until she is ready, no matter what her religious roots. The premise is actually a launching pad for her character’s often cartoonish misadventures with a menagerie of colorful, dysfunctional guys, all impressively realized here by Cyrus Alexander.
The thematically askew element of “Catholic Girl’s Guide” arises when Lizzie (Hendy), who has been protecting her virginity with utter vigilance, learns that the beloved cleric of her youth has been prosecuted for solicitation. Proclaiming, “My priest has a better sex life than me,” Lizzie embarks on an all-out campaign to give her innocence away to the first man who will take it. In a stretch of credulity, she manages to find a plethora of creaky reasons for not giving it up to any one of a host of very willing libidos. And the guys to which she would offer herself are simply “not into her.”
Popular on Variety
Despite the haziness of the dramatic throughline, this one-acter offers a zesty showcase for Hendy, who displays impressive comedic flair as a single lady maneuvering through a jungle of masculine imperatives. Making great use of Tom Buderwitz’s inventive modular setting, helmer Eli Gonda keeps Lizzie’s journey moving swiftly, abetted by Alexander’s tour de force renderings of all the misbegotten men crossing Lizzie’s path.
Hendy’s vignettes work best when displaying some level of social plausibility. In the opening scene, Lizzie projects an amusing ambivalence in her passion-driven willingness to wrap her clothed limbs around a relentlessly driven sex hound while keeping him from rounding all the bases by sweetly declaring, “Sex before marriage is a sin.”
Unfortunately, most of the action is taken up with Lizzie’s obtuse machinations with an assortment of caricatures, including all the grotesque losers she meets at a speed-dating session and the psychopath she encounters on a trip to Vegas. Another low point is the inclusion of a jarringly inappropriate, out-of-context fantasy TV gameshow, “Lizzie Gets Laid.”
Complementing the proceedings are the character-perfect costumes of Cynthia Obsenares and the fluid lighting of Michael Gillam.