One has to wonder what Erica Schmidt’s (Peter Dinlage’s wife) teenage angst consisted of. Her new play All The Fine Boys at The Signature produced by The New Group, doesn’t bode well for teenage coming or not coming of age in small town USA. We all know the typical rhetoric of noone understand you, your body’s is changing and your hormones are on over drive. Now days 67% of girls are having sex as early as 13 and teen age crushes rule how your brain thinks and you behave.
It is the 80’s and we are in suburbia South Carolina, as best friends Emily (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Jenny (Abigail Breslin) are excited to turn 15. They watch horror films, eat junk food, gushing over popularity and boys. Emily is crushing on Adam (Alex Wolff), who at 17 is a senior, rebel, guitar-playing, self-involved, bad boy out of her league. Jenny, shortly meets a man, she has known from church, a little younger than her father. We follow back and forth as both these relationships play out.
Isabelle Fuhrman, succeeds the most in finding some kind of layering in Emily. We believe her desperate need for warmth and attention. The attraction she feels for Adam feels real. Alex Wolff as Adam is cocky and rebellious, playing the role perfectly. Abigail Breslin just never feels real and she is done a disservice in the horrible costuming by Tom Broecker. We should morn for Jenny, as we know from the moment she meets Joseph she is doomed. As Joseph, Joe, Trippett just doesn’t seem conflicted. For a religious zealot who is a pedophile, with secrets to hide there is no lust or yearning on his face as he goes for his victim. I recommend seeing Kid Victory and Jeffry Denman’s exquisite performance.
Schmidt script, is a mediocre mess. Everything falls flat, in such a predictable way. Nothing is layered and everything that happens seems dishonest. Even the end just peters out. Youth, sex and angst have an electrical energy to it, All the Fine Boys does not. Ms. Schmidt also directs and is just as helpless there.
Done on one set that serves as Jenny’s basement, Joseph’s apartment and Adam’s bedroom does not work as there were always remnants of the last scene, especially with the birthday cake.
Ms. Schmidt puts the awkward years, into an awkward play instead of finding a voice in which to say something significant. What a waste.
All the Fine Boys: The New Group, The Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 West 42nd St. until March 26th.