The “hero” of Neil LaBute’s 2005 comedy Some Girl(s) is rather like the Hobbesian view of nature: nasty, brutish and short. But Thomas Hobbes is far less well known for a sense of humor than is hotshot bad boy LaBute, who probes relationships like a dentist doing root canals without anesthetic.
So while you get lots of laughs in the Red Barn Theater’s Pittsburgh-premiere production, you should also expect verbal (and occasionally literal) fisticuffs. The play hangs on the conceit of a modestly successful writer/academic, in the days before his wedding, flying around the country to visit the major women in his life whom he has loved and dumped. The title echoes the dismissive way the main character refers to other girlfriends — even his fiancée — when he’s with any particular ex-girlfriend.
His purpose is murky, his explanations inane. He doesn’t even seem to have a name. The program labels him as “Guy,” but he’s never addressed by that or any name. (The London production listed him as “Man.”) In LaBute’s world, this is just a typical guy.
This production, ably directed by Mark Calla, is admirably suited to Red Barn, which exploits the humor and foibles of the characters without viciousness, and provides a showcase for an excellent cast. In the central role, Cris Bondi is not short on stamina, and his literal stature is a constant visual reminder that the women in his life have continued to grow as he has not. This is underlined in the scene with Samantha Booth as the now-grown-up little sister of a boyhood friend, recounting his misdeeds when she was barely 12.
After identifying the specific wrongs he committed, all the women exact some sort of revenge for the Guy’s moral and emotional cowardice. Dianna Ifft is sweetly fragile as the former high school sweetheart in Seattle. Maggie Mayer brings a sense of fun to the sexy Chicago artist who doesn’t “get” literary allusions, but has a wicked insight into the guy’s self-delusions. Claire Fraley’s role as a married Boston academic with a tortuous revenge scheme is already over the top, and Fraley pushes it even further. Kathi Finch does more with just a well-timed stare, and a trembling sense of pain and outrage, as the Los Angeles grad-school ex-girlfriend.
The play and the production come together to deliver double-edged humor, but don’t expect a safety razor. LaBute draws blood.
Some Girl(s) continues through Sun., Aug. 5. Red Barn Theater, 3101 McCully Road, Allison Park. 412-487-4390