Life hasn’t been a walk in the park for the Lefebvre ladies, and things aren’t exactly looking up.
The three New Hampshire women at the center of Lost Girls, John Pollono’s entertaining but ultimately undercooked play, represent three generations of tough, working-class women that have as much trouble navigating the basics of day-to-day life as they do reconciling the damaged hand that they’ve been dealt.
Linda (a terrific Christine Power) is the coarse, wisecracking matriarch who probably voted for Donald Trump and has no problem drinking wine out of a box. She had her daughter Maggie (Audrey Lynn Sylvia, excellent) as a teenager, just as her mother had her. Maggie is a similarly disillusioned yet angrier version of her mother and is one pizza and a six-pack away from bouncing the electric bill. Maggie’s daughter, Erica (Lesley Anne Moreau), is a high school sophomore who seems destined to make the same mistakes as her mother. And she’s missing.
Their kitchen table becomes the situation room as Erica’s father, Lou (an affecting Terrence P. Haddad), descends on the house with his new bride, Penny, a God-loving Midwest transplant (played by Lauren Foster) who couldn’t have anything less in common with Maggie. Maggie and Lou were high school sweethearts whose relationship ended traumatically, and even now they can barely interact with one another like two adults.
Erica is just fine, by the way. Well, mostly. She’s holed up in a Connecticut hotel with her friend, Boy, played by the endearing Zach Winston. You see—now stay with me—Boy is driving Erica (or Girl, as she is called in the script—get it! They’re universal types!) to Florida to be with her boyfriend, who is more than 20 years her senior. Oh, and the Florida creep is paying Boy to escort Girl down safely.
Have I lost you? I can’t blame you.
For all of the profound questions being raised here about the inheritance of damage and the impossibility of rising above the hand we’re dealt, Pollono’s play ultimately descends into unbelievable after school special territory that elicits cringes rather than tears. It is almost shocking, in a way, that this snappy 75-minute play is a finished product. While it is nevertheless engaging, it is also, in many ways, a missed opportunity.
Director Melanie Garber has done a terrific job with both her fluid, naturalistic staging and the excellent performances that frequently transcend the material. Audrey Lynn Sylvia is an effortlessly barbed Maggie, and Christine Power’s Linda is so delicious that she deserves a play all her own. Lauren Foster’s Penny, though, is unconvincing, and some key scenes lose steam because of it.
Despite the fact that Lost Girls isn’t entirely convincing, it remains a thoughtful and perceptive work with a handful of fine performances. Yet for all the gold woven throughout the play, I’m left chewing on what could have been rather than what is.
LOST GIRLS. THROUGH 1.21 AT TAKE YOUR PICK PRODUCTIONS, BOSTON CENTER FOR THE ARTS. BOSTONTHEATRESCENE.COM