Sy’s Girl

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Part maudlin Neil Simon comedy, part semi-entertaining sitcom, BYU’s new “Sy’s Girl” stretches at comedy, as well as at themes of reality and happiness, but ultimately falls just short of reaching them.

Moira (Jessica Mockett) is a 20-year-old college girl with a perfect boyfriend: Sy (Luke Drake), a handsome, sensitive, romantic fellow who is five years older than she and who doesn’t exist. She made him up when she was 12, and they’ve been “together” ever since.

Her roommate and best friend, Uber-feminist Delia (Rebecca Connerley), plays Rhoda to her Mary in their little sitcom house, complaining with world-weary sardonicism about the banalities of life. “I don’t mind guys in theory,” she says. “I just don’t like them in my personal space.” Cue laugh track.

Delia encourages Moira’s delusions, even though it means she avoids dating real guys. She defends Sy, saying that Moira was a “functioning adult who made a decision that made her happy.” A good point, except that Moira was 12 when she created Sy, and her childhood fantasy has now taken over her life.

Problems arise when Delia’s cousin, Quinn (Rick Murdock), playing the part of Generic Guy, comes over for dinner. In a highly unlikely sequence of events, Delia immediately tells Quinn all about Moira’s imaginary friend — something few people know about, yet Delia blabs it in five minutes. But Moira is more irked when her sitcom-standard Meddling Parents (Ruthanne Lay and F. Oscar Wright) drop by and wind up inviting Quinn — whom Moira doesn’t care much for, what with him being real and all — to Thanksgiving dinner.

Moira falls for Quinn, and Sy gets jealous. Moira has to face reality. That’s when it turns from a sitcom into a made-for-TV domestic melodrama, with people yelling things along the lines of, “You were never there for me!” and “What’s that supposed to mean?”

It’s a fine idea for a play, but it’s amazing that this thing, written by undergraduate Natalie Prado, went through BYU’s Writers/Directors/Actors Workshop and came out with so many holes still intact. Delia is a psychology major, yet staunchly supports Moira’s clearly unhealthy obsession. Moira’s parents, one two-dimensionally shrill and the other bumblingly soft-spoken, sneak into her apartment on a regular basis and read her diary — and then justify it by saying Moira never opens up to them.

Furthermore, the whole thing lacks emotional build, with Moira seeming to make the same decision several times before the play finally ends.

There are some good lines, and some clever, subtle observations about life, mixed in with all the jokey-silly stuff. Despite her character’s flaws and contradictions, Connerley is successful at conveying the likably grumpy Delia as somewhat real. Mockett is kind of stuck as Moira — who spends most of the play in a fantasy world — but does what she can to make her seem as real as possible. Similarly, Murdock does what he can with the puzzlingly non-descript Quinn.

Drake’s excellent scenes are the sincerely suave Sy are the play’s highlights, and are used sparingly. It’s easy to see why Moira has clung to him for eight years. But even Sy’s character breaks down after a while, when his jealousy gets the best of him and he starts to act like a normal, non-perfect guy. Is this really what Moira would imagine? The psychological implications touched on throughout the play are neat, but nothing is ever done with them. All you can do is wait until the end, when everything turns out happy and the closing credits roll.

Also: Throughout the first act, whenever there was a scene change (which was often), we had to hear bits of Sinead O'Connor's "No Man's Woman." It's an OK song, but not when you have to hear it 12 times in the space of an hour. That's petty, though, so I'm not even going to mention it.

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