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Let’s Get Ready Together

Three freshmen girls from diverse backgrounds at a Massachusetts college form strong bonds in this pleasant play that’s in the spirit of Wendy Wasserstein.

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Arielle Goldman, Rachel B. Joyce and Marieta Carrero in a scene from “Let’s Get Ready Together” (Photo credit: Ashley Garrett)

Darryl Reilly

Darryl Reilly, Critic

The getting of wisdom among freshman girls from diverse backgrounds at a Massachusetts college is told in the pleasant play Let’s Get Ready Together. It recalls the witty feminist concerns found in the works of Wendy Wasserstein but its plot lacks strength.

Playwright Lizzie Stern has an ear for contemporary discourse and her dialogue is well-crafted. The characters are appealing and are finely detailed. The universal focus is on the relationships of the young women, their youthful idealism and their conflicts with their mothers. Structurally inspired, there are phone calls to the mothers, voice overs and confessional asides. Ms. Stern has a good grasp of the theatrical but her plotting is faulty.

“These girls are smart” is Ms. Stern’s description of them. Californian Nina is a Peruvian-American from a struggling family, upper-middle class Ella is from the Midwest and is gay, well-to-do Clara is Jewish and from New York City. Another dormmate is Mexican-American Lucy who is a junior. Besides their mothers, various figures at the school are encountered.

Ruth Aguilar and Marietta Carrero in a scene from “Let’s Get Ready Together” (Photo credit: Ashley Garrett)

They get to know each other and become close. There are parties, membership in an improv group, vodka drinking, gender and societal debates and noble aspirations such as Nina’s goal of becoming a gynecologist to help poor women. Halfway through the 90-minute running time the defining event of the play occurs.

An unseen person has carved an anti-Mexican slur on a table in the dining hall. The girls are profoundly outraged and want the school to pursue the culprits and bring them to justice for this hate crime. The school authorities, however, have removed the table and painted it over in the belief that it’s best to move on. This event looms over the play’s second half.

Though appalling, this situation is arguably a weak device to use as a climactic lynchpin. The event as dramatized doesn’t register as monumentally heinous as it is intended to be. The young overreacting out of proportion to a perceived outrage such as this one has validity. Here, the overreliance on it sidetracks virtually everything else as the play sputters out without much impact.

Of great aid to the production is scenic designer Cate McCrea’s clever dorm room with a curtain on the miniscule stage’s back wall that indicates buildings. Adjacent to this is a ledge and separate playing areas on the sides. These elements all functionally serve as several locations that allow the actions to proceed swiftly.

Director Lily Riopelle’s resourceful staging takes into account the three-sided playing area so that the events play out with scope at every viewing angle. Ms. Riopelle’s work with the cast is evidenced by the engaging performances.

Marieta Carrero as Nina, Arielle Goldman as Clara, Rachel B. Joyce as Ella and Andrea Negrete as Lucy are all captivating and wonderfully put their individual imprints on the roles.

The magnetic Shauna Bloom brings a marvelous comedic tone to her depiction of a self-important gender studies professor and icy intensity as Clara’s mother who reminds her that the family’s Holocaust reparation checks are paying for her education.

Rachel B. Joyce and Dawn McGee in a scene from “Let’s Get Ready Together” (Photo credit: Ashley Garrett

As Ella’s mother, Dawn McGee offers a wistful portrait of an ineffectual WASP who drinks too much, and as the dean, Ms.  McGee is subtly steely when protecting the college.

Jovial Ruth Aguilar warmly plays the head chef of the school’s dining hall and is a pillar of maternal strength as Nina’s mother.

Cha See’s lighting design ably assists in the scene transitions. Sound designer Valentine Monfeuga efficiently represents the musical selections and effects. Nicole Slaven’s costume design is an inspired assortment of contemporary wear that realistically defines all of the characters.

Let’s Get Ready has its charms but doesn’t evolve into a fully satisfying work.

Let’s Get Ready Together (through June 10, 2018)

The Tank, 312 West 36th Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, call 800-838-3006 or visit http://www.thetanknyc.org

Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

 

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Darryl Reilly
About Darryl Reilly (525 Articles)
A native New Yorker, Darryl Reilly graduated from NYU with a BFA in Cinema Studies. For the Broadway League, (formerly The League of American Theatres and Producers) he developed, and for five years conducted their Broadway Open House Tours, which took visitors through The Theatre District and into several Broadway theaters. He contributed to Broadway Musicals Show by Show: Sixth Edition (Applause Books). Since 2013, he has reviewed theater, cabaret, and concerts for Theaterscene.net.

1 Comment on Let’s Get Ready Together

  1. Alana Edelberg // June 5, 2018 at 6:53 am // Reply

    I saw the production last weekend. I agree the plot needs some work. I was struck by an idea that this actually could be developed into a very good TV series. I was especially impressed by the entire cast’s strong performances with special attention to Arielle Goldman. Her ability to weave in and out of the intensity and create such a three dimensional, complex character was marvelous. She had me fixated at certain points wanting more of her and to know what she, in particular, was like in high school and how she must have coped with the whole holocaust references in her life. If I knew her, I would have waited after the show to just give her a big hug. All of the young and older women were excellent.

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