“Girl Most Likely To” Disturbingly Funny

The Girl (Mandela Bellamy) defends the Boy's (Tobit Raphael) right to dress as a girl against the Teacher (Nicholas Downs)

Through May 13th, 2012, at the Los Angeles Theatre Center

Reviewed by Senior Theater Critic Dale Reynolds

Michael Premsrirat’s witty and original play, Girl Most Likley To is about a young Filipino-American teen boy who really wants to be a girl, or at least to dress as one and be treated as one.  That this leads to tragedy is sad, but that his play makes the desire normal and the trans-phobia that accompanies it abnormal, is, I’d say, ‘bout time.

A production of the 20-year-old Playwright’s Arena (at the LATC downtown), expertly directed by Artistic Director Jon Lawrence Rivera, most certainly is a highlight in the non-Music Center theatre district.  Disturbing, funny, fascinatingly-crafted and -directed, the production has been well-cast, starting with Tobit Raphael as the s/he; the gifted Ramon de Ocampo as a wise older trannie; veteran Fran de Leon as the beleaguered mother of the younger cross-dresser (as well as being a teeny-bopper – and she looks accurate at both ages); Nicholas Downs as the young serviceman in love with de Ocampo’s character, Mama Cid, a naïf who isn’t sure he can bring her back to the USA as a service-bride (y’think?!  Well, not yet, at any rate); and Eric Schulman as the early-20s jock-type who cannot accept his reality vis-à-vis a transgendered sweetheart.

Premsrirat’s dramady plays well in the steeply-raked Theatre 2 at the LATC.  Both gender-benders lip-sing a lot, to music of the day, and the cast gets to dance, too, which is fun.  And trying to guess the gender of the two set-movers is a wondrous and silly mystery unto itself (TeJay McGrath and Matthew Thompson).

John H. Brinkley’s unit set looks good and moves well and has been gratifyingly lighted by Adam Blumenthal, and Mylette Nora’s costume design is flattering on everyone.

This is truly break-through material, well-handled and exceptionally entertaining.  You will be shocked, horrified, gratified and enlightened.  So, what else is the value of theatre, eh?

The Girl Most Likely To… plays through May 13th at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, 512 S. Spring Street, L.A.  Tickets at 866.811.4111 or www.thelatc.org.

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