A Catholic Girl's Guide to Losing Your Virginity is a worthy romp at The Falcon Theatre

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BY TOM WALDMAN

These are some of the given reasons women are spurred to lose their virginity— love, lust, revenge, anger, curiosity, boredom, impaired judgment, peer pressure. In The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity, currently playing at the Falcon Theatre, writer Annie Hendy, offers another one—hypocrisy. When Lizzy (Hendy), the female half of this two-person show, sees a report on the news that a priest from her hometown of Cincinnati has been arrested for soliciting a (female) prostitute, she decides on the spot to stop saving herself for marriage.

‘Lizzy’ (Annie Hendy) and ‘The Man’ (Cyrus Alexander) in The Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity at the Falcon Theatre. Photos by Chelsea Sutton

Since Lizzy is almost 25 at the time, even devout Catholic theatergoers in 2011 might wonder what took her so long. But aside from being a True Believer, Lizzy is also one of those sharp-tongued, caustic young women who find something severely wrong with every man, including those who might be a good match.

While the combination of religiosity and cynicism complicates her quest for sexual completion, it enables this one-act, 90-minute play to transcend what could be both the limiting and predictable plot devices suggested by its title. Here, Catholicism serves as the catalyst for a series of often very funny encounters between Lizzy and the mostly creeps, perverts, and oddballs she meets attempting to find a guy, any guy, who can make a modern woman out of her.

“Catholic Girl’s Guide” takes place in Cincinnati and New York, plus an interlude in Las Vegas, where Lizzy auditions a Jewish contender who is far more brutish, coarse, and bullying than anything we have come to expect from the heroes of Woody Allen films. Her quest includes trips to a sports bar and a health club; a disastrous blind date; and, in the play’s weakest scene, an attempt at speed-dating, where Lizzy meets three men who are gross, offensive, and not humorous in the least.

Rarely has the effort to land a man seemed so grim and depressing. After all, Lizzy is not pursuing a husband, or a boyfriend, like the lead character in a chick flick, but merely a sex partner. It is Hendy’s novel notion that in contemporary society even a woman with low expectations and purely physical needs can find herself consigned to a kind of dating hell.

Through it all, we root for Lizzy, because she is attractive, witty, smart, sympathetic and increasingly lonely. Like any fundamentally good person, she deserves to be happy, or in this case, satisfied.

Hendy’s writing is tight and crisp; few of the many scenes run long, or seem forced, which can be a hazard in plays and films dealing with a young woman desperately seeking a good man. Her portrayal of Lizzy is refreshingly wry and low-key, rendering all the more effective those times when the script calls for the female lead to convey anger or pain.

Sharing the stage for most of the evening is Cyrus Alexander, playing a character called simply The Man, who is actually many men, each of them with his own distinct personality, accent, and outfit. Alexander’s talent for speed-acting alone makes “Catholic Girl’s Guide” well worth seeing.

A Catholic Girl’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity runs through March 6th. Performances are Wed-Sat at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 4 p.m. The Falcon Theatre is located at 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank. For tickets, call the box office at 818-955-8101, or go to www.FalconTheatre.com

Tom Waldman is co-author of “Land of a Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock and Roll From Southern California”, which had its second printing in 2009, and author of “the Best Guide to American Politics, “We All Want to Change the World: Rock and Politics From Elvis to Eminem” and “Not Much Left: The Decline of Liberalism in America”. He currently serves as chief of staff to LAUSD Board Member Tamar Galatzan.

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Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

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