Boy Gets Girl Humanizes Heady Issues

Julia Hubay, Arts Editor

Imagine going on a blind date during which your date betrays a bit of an Oedipal complex, admits to enjoying feeling anonymous and then pressures you for your home address and phone number. Would you be excited to see him again?

Unfortunately for Theresa Bedell, the main character of Rebecca Gilman’s play Boy Gets Girl, running at the Little Theater from Nov. 1–4 under the direction of College junior Zach Weinberg, the creepy bachelor Tony doesn’t give her the choice. Theresa (College sophomore Annie Winneg) tries to communicate clearly with Tony (College junior Brian Gale), who fails to understand that Theresa has no interest in his amorous advances or gifts of flowers. 

When Tony shows up to Theresa’s office uninvited, her co-workers urge her to give the obviously smitten fellow a chance, but she quickly realizes that he is more than just a harmless admirer who can’t take a hint. In one of the most visually striking scenes of the production, Theresa sits alone in her New York apartment being assaulted by the incessant ringing of her phone. Through the telephone, Tony asserts himself as a tenacious presence in her life, which is beautifully rendered by his larger-than-life silhouette leaving messages on her machine until Theresa finally smashes her phone to pieces.But this is just the beginning of the nightmare for Theresa: The flowers, notes and phone calls continue, becoming increasingly threatening. Theresa suspects that Tony is following her, and enlists the support of Detective Beck (College junior Sophie Weiskoff) at the suggestion of her friendly co-worker Mercer Stevens (College sophomore Jordan Golding). Beck urges Theresa to make drastic changes to her life to avoid Tony’s stalking, including moving out of her apartment, not falling into any kind of routine in her travels around the city, and Beck even suggests that Theresa change her name.

Theresa’s emotional struggle, brilliantly acted by Winneg, drives the play forward and keeps the audience engaged throughout the duration of this full-length, two-act drama. A few twists and turns along the way slightly diverge from the otherwise straightforward narrative of the horror of being the victim of a stalker, but the real treat for the audience is Winneg’s performance. Wracked with self-doubt, blame and fear, Theresa goes from a highly motivated and talented reporter to an unkempt, terrified wreck, suspicious of any act of kindness that comes her way.

The issues that Theresa faces bring questions of heterosexual dating norms to the forefront of the character’s life, but the director warns against viewing Boy Gets Girl as an “issues” play. The handling of gender politics is a bit heavy-handed, and Weinberg urges the audience to enjoy the play by focusing on Theresa’s “fear of the stalker that transforms into an internally motivated fear.” The problems of objectifying and fetishizing women are not news to Oberlin audiences, but the humanizing portrayal of a woman whose life is destroyed by the stalking of an admirer is an important function of the play. Weinberg said “the immediacy of the theater makes it easier to empathize with the characters and examine what is happening.”

Theresa declares, “I’m not theoretical; I’m real,” highlighting the fact that the sexualizing male gaze and normative gender roles are not just problematic on a grand, societal scale, but that the lives of real people are impacted by these issues. Boy Gets Girl is a polished, artistic, emotional and deeply human portrait of some of the reasons why we all still need feminism, as well as an enthralling fantasy that allows the audience to be carried away by the story of Theresa’s experience as a victim of stalking.