(The thoughtful cast at work.)
Gently presented, Something Something Theatre's production of “Body Awareness” by Annie Baker asks its audience to think instead of react. Thoughtfulness marks the audience responses, as well as the actors responses to each other.
In a time when stereotyping has practically become a dirty word, Baker suggests that the female stereotyping of male behavior is just as bad, too. Baker has more in mind.
"My goal for the play is to not judge anyone, (but) to get at that point where everyone is equally right and equally wrong,” Baker is quoted by Wikipedia.
This determination to not have a political agenda is refreshing, to be sure. It leaves room for a naturalness in the dialogue that will draw you into the low-key presentation, as directed by Joan O'Dwyer. At times, sitting in the audience almost feels like eavesdropping on the people in the play.
As the story opens, it is Body Awareness Week at the fictional Shirley State College in Shirley, Vermont. Each day of the week features a different guest speaker. On one particular day, the guest speaker is Frank Bonitatibus (Roger Owen), a middle-aged man whose profession is taking pictures of nude women of all ages.
The other three cast members are Phyllis (Whitney Morton Woodcock) the psychology professor who has organized Body Awareness Week, her lover Joyce (Monica Wolfkill) a high school social studies teacher and Joyce's socially awkward 21-year-old virgin son Jared (Lorenzo Montijo) from a previous marriage, who has symptoms of Asperger's Syndrome.
It is surely a collection of delicate personalities, whose balance is rattled when Joyce independently decides she would like to pose for Frank's camera. He's just such a puppy dog kind of guy. What could possibly go wrong.
This decision rattles Phyllis, who is already convinced Frank is filled with ulterior motives, just like all men. Momentum builds when Jared is also drawn to Frank as a father figure, seeking his advice on sexual matters with questions of Asperger-directness.
The end of this 100-minute one-act comes quietly, rather than arriving with a bolt of insight. But then, we leave the theater feeling a new awareness for the possibilities that can be found in an imperfect life.
"Body Awareness” runs through Oct. 16 with shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, in the downtown Cabaret Space, 330 S. Scott Ave. Tickets are $22, $18 students, seniors, military. For details and reservations, go tosomethingsomethingtheatre.com.