Where's Julie is a Surreal Trip Down a Dark Path
GAINAX ENDING: An ending of a story that comes out of nowhere and explains little
By H.G. Welch
My original title for Coneman Running's production of Where's Julie was a Happy Upbeat Story About Truly Awful People. That was until the last fifteen minutes of the play. Without spoiling the ending, I can safely say that the play's story could not have gone any more off the rails if they had cast a coked up Charlie Sheen as Casey Jones. It takes a reasonably silly play straight into theatre of the absurd territory.
The premise is simple, 15 year old Julie (played by the perky Cindy Lou Parker), finds out she's pregnant and runs away from home. Her family life is the definition of dysfunctional. Her mother (Laura Moreno) is extremely codependent, her father (Zachary Braver) is openly abusive, her brother (Nick Pinelli) is mentally challenged. Julie seeks shelter with her older sister Allison (Carrie Lee Sparks) who seems to be the only sane person in the family. Joining the growing list of extremely messed up people is the 22 year old stoner boyfriend Hector (Ricky Rojas) and stereotypical Jesus freak best friend Margaret (Katy Butler). The play also has running commentary in the form of two stagehands (Sundi Lee and Bailey Hampton) who are very aware they are in a play.
Much of the play's humor is based on shock factor, in just how horrible these people can be. Much of the time it amuses with quite a bit of accidental honesty, other times it presents the abuse with sobering realism. The characters are parodies of themselves, they aren't presented as real people but character flaws with names. The play is apologetically black comedy, the one time it drops the humor aspect it gets very dark, very quickly.
The pace of the play is a step short of madcap. There is no intermission, and the slow scenes are very few and far between. Cheramie Hopper directs the cast list like a jockey gunning for the Triple Crown. If one joke doesn't hit there's another one right around the corner. By the time the play has reached its Monty Python style ending it is already clawing at the edges of surrealness, and then it shatters the fourth wall like a freight train on a mission from God. The ending itself has to be seen to be believed, words cannot do it justice.
Where's Julie is playing at the Obsidian Theatre until 4/29. There is no intermission and it runs in tandem with with Barrymore.