by Annie Baker
Mar 30 – Apr 15, 2012
Herberger Theater Center
Amanda Melby plays “Phyllis” in “Body Awareness” at Actors Theatre of Phoenix; opens March 30
The one-act play is set (as last season’s CIRCLE MIRROR TRANSFORMATION) in the fictional small town of Shirley, Vermont, where Phyllis (AMANDA MELBY), a college campus organizer for Body Awareness Week (whose topics range from a dance troupe of refugee Palestinian children to an eating disorder seminar) lives with her partner Joyce (Maria Amorocho), a high school social studies teacher, and Joyce’s 21-year-old son Jared (Will Hightower), from a prior marriage. Jared shows several symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome, but he refuses to see a therapist for treatment. Their houseguest is a middle-aged photographer named Frank Bonitatibus (Ian Christianson), whose artistic photos of nude women offend Phyllis. Frank’s presence exacerbates the already existing tension between the three of them, and when Joyce agrees to pose for one of Frank’s pictures, this threatens her relationship with Phyllis. Meanwhile, Jared, a self-described autodidact who works at McDonald’s until he successfully tries to get fired because he hates his co-workers, asks Frank for advice on how to attract women.
“5 STARS!…a smart, modest work about ordinary, flawed people, grasping for connection, but none of it feels small, thanks to Baker’s sharp ear for the deeply painful-and funny-longings squirming under her characters’ dialogue. What a beautiful start to a young playwright’s theatrical body of work.” – Time Out New York
Directed by Matthew Wiener.