Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Review: The Lena Dunham Generation

It's true. The millennial generation has it tough. But there are those few and far between who can make it out. Well thanks to wealthy parents and nepotism. One of those cases is Lena Denham, the twenty-something do-it-all-herself media mogul who used her connections to get to the top. Many adore her for her truth bombs and honest portrayal of society. Some hate her for her grotesque truth bombs and skewed portrayal of society. And that is where I Hate Lena Dunham begins. Written and directed by Sergio Castillo, I Hate Lena Dunham is part political satire, part agenda pushing conversation starter, and part wannabe character driven play. With so many ideas, I Hate Lena Dunham is a flurry of thoughts that offers, sadly, nothing new or conventional. We begin with Nora delivering a monologue about society and Lena D only to be interrupted by a fake celeb gossip program and a hipster chick professing her love for the "Girl". The bit brings great laughs and is true, honest, and brilliant portrayal of how we treat the hot topic issues. The bit happens often. And that's where the play shines. In the satire. But the second it gets abandoned for dialogue that is part Fox News and part Facebook ranting, the credibility of the writing suffers. By this point I Hate Lena Dunham becomes nothing but agenda and platform driven. With the scattered ideas and meek through-line, the script is in desperate need of a dramaturg. Deciding which journey is best suited for the play will be helpful. And it's probably not the one that includes that ranty monologue at the end. This monologue is not derived from the character but the playwright using the character as a squawk box. Its no secret many people disagree with Dunham and her choice not to use her celebrity platform to inform society about our issues. But for Castillo to take it to the next level and ridicule the audience, many of who are artists themselves, and demand that the point of art is to never entertain but use it for social change? It brought the play to a point where the validity of the writing was strongly in question. Good writing comes when personal beliefs are not transparent. The other bizarre writing choice was the use of La Muerte. The figure roamed the stage, playing jazz on alto sax. But what was his purpose? Subconscious? The devil on the shoulder? A way to incorporate the beautiful sound of live music? Who really knows. And that's an issue.
Despite the structure causing some concern, Shereen Macklin as Nora carried the show on her shoulders. Macklin is a powerful performer. She craves the stage and commands it. She offered an array of emotions that allowed the character to find an passionate journey even if we didn't care about the circumstances. The other strong player was utility device queen, Melanie Rothman. Her energy was right where it needed to be. But you knew from the start that the Chekov's gun was completely going to be turned on her. To no fault of her own, Nicole Stoica had one of the most despicable characters ever. Lynn was such vile and self-righteous, it’s amazing anyone put up with her.
Due to the lack of separate director, the play was lost. By collaborating with a director, a concise vision could be had and the problems could be eliminated. The staging was bland and the transitions less than desirable.
Sergio Castillo has a great title for a play. It draws butts into the seats. And he’s succeeded by sparking conversation. It’s just the tonality of the piece. It’s not angry. It’s bitter.