Abstain [by Matt Baker]
Contrary to its premise, Like A Virgin does not so much uncover the conversations, secrets, and revelations of people’s first experiences, as it does half-heartedly pontificate on these matters without exploring them alongside its audience.
What little narrative exists lacks natural development, with the numerous scenes piling up instead of amounting to anything substantial. Any attempt at pathos, such as Courtney’s barren monologue or Taofia’s unrequited love, are obvious at best and fruitless at worst. This is not due to the acting, but the lack of depth in the text, which becomes more apparent as the show drags on with a superfluous amount of repetition resulting in the best scenes losing their initial humour and relying on shtick to carry the show.
Katrina Wesseling’s one roof set design is an impressive construction that provides a number of focal points for the action, the lighting design (uncredited), however, cannot seem to make up its mind with a variety of intense colours that saturate the stage from time to time, before fading back to the overused natural front lights. Director Hanelle Harris incorporates some theatrical conventions to good effect, but they aren’t enough to distract from the lack of content.
Devised work requires consistent reflection throughout the process to ensure a firm grasp on its subject matter, without it the result is a haphazard production that begs the question for its purpose. Whatever its intention, Like A Virgin remains an inexperience.
Like A Virgin plays at the Basement until November 8. Details see The Basement.