Women Are Crazy Because Men Are A**holes has opened for ten days at The Cherry Lane, hoping for a longer New York stay after successful runs in Los Angeles and Chicago. Recognizing that this well-trod material is better appreciated through shared experience, the producers wisely filled seats by offering discount tickets to active off-Broadway viewers. Being nestled in a packed house turns what might otherwise be a forgettable show into a time of wicked laughter and knowing head-bobs.
The action begins with five young couples gathering for a brunch. It is a celebration of the first face-to-face meeting between Nicole and Dylan, who have been courting on the internet. While theirs may be the newest romance, there is plenty of awkwardness, codependency, and manipulation to go around. Phoenix and Tim have just broken up, Mandy and Benny have just gotten back together, and Bella and Blake are in very different stages of life.
The banter is mostly realistic, likely because the events were inspired by writer/director Brad T. Gottfred’s own experiences with a girlfriend who — in his own words — brought out the asshole in him. Much of the dialogue is witty and delivered at a brisk pace. However, as in many relationships, the conversations are often circular. This is particularly true of Hillary and Tim, who have the same unproductive argument for the entire play, never making it to the brunch as a result. I avoid such people in real life and didn’t enjoy being exposed to them in my off-hours. Judging from the fact that none of the characters express any concern for bickerer’s absence after the first five minutes, their friends don’t enjoy being around them much either.
Most of the ensemble — Mandy Henderson, JJ Nolan, Devlin Borra, Blake Boyd, Baxter Defy, and Tunisia Hardison — have been with the show since inception. (Ms. Henderson, Mr. Boyd, and Ms. Nolan also serve as co-producers.) The remaining actors — Christine Donlon, Nikki McKenzie, Justin Sintic and John Weselcouch — joined two years ago. This gives the entire cast a sense of ease with one another that provides depth and spontaneity to the somewhat predictable script. To my no-longer-30-years-old ears, some of the dialogue was delivered in hard-to-interpret screeches, but generally the interaction had the right level of exuberance. Gottfred’s staging is clever and makes use of every nook and cranny of the small theater. This enables the focus to move swiftly among couples and lets them easily play off of one another’s exchanges.
Despite many uncomfortable moments for the characters, it all adds up to silly fun for spectators. Best of all, as someone who supports keeping theater relevant and accessible to everyone, I was pleased to see so many younger people in the audience. I have no doubt the irreverent title got them there. I believe word of mouth will continue to bring them through the door. If you’d like to be among their number, visit http://bleepingcrazy.com for tickets and information.