Featuring Loretta

Published: May 25th 2010
in Culture » Stage

Brandon McGibbon (Dave), Lesley Faulkner (Loretta) and Kevin Hanchard (Michael) in Featuring Loretta

Loretta is the kind of girl who gives men an immediate erection on sight. We know this because Michael, the smooth-talking, hyper-sensual “agent” who wants to book Loretta into strip clubs and porn films, keeps telling her. And Dave, the whiny salesman who jumps at the chance to ‘act’ in said films with Loretta, agrees. Loretta (Lesley Faulkner), the unfortunate beauty at the centre of this mess, wants to use them so she can make enough money to figure out her options with the baby she’s carrying – just as long as they’re not exploiting her.


That proves a little difficult in Featuring Loretta, the one-act play by George F. Walker that closes the Factory Theatre’s fortieth season. Breezy and light, Featuring Loretta manages to make some tawdry subject matter a whole lot of fun. Besides dealing with the two men vying for her attention, Loretta must contend with recent widowhood (her husband was eaten by a bear in the Ontario wilderness), carrying her husband’s best friend’s baby (it was a revenge fling after she found out he was cheating), and the constantly ringing phone in her motel room, as her parents, sister, and former in-laws want to know where she is, when she’s coming home, and what she’s doing with the baby.


But her biggest problem, as Loretta frequently tells us, is her lack of options. “My options are all I got,” she says early in the play, and the only reason she’s considering becoming a stripper or call girl or porn actress is to make money – because money, she reminds us, is the only thing that gives you the freedom to choose your options.


Even if Loretta doesn’t see the contradiction here, we do: is selling your body for money a genuine route to freedom? And if you need to make money so badly, so it won’t be a factor in your future decisions, isn’t whatever you decide in the first place inherently tainted by that need?


That’s the closest the play comes to delivering any sort of message or conundrum, because Featuring Loretta is mostly superficial entertainment. The characters are funny, but they each have a ‘shtick’ rather than a personality: Dave is high-strung and obsessive, Michael is sleazy and insecure, the Russian motel maid Sophie (who becomes a confidante for Loretta) is deadpan and indifferent to life, and Loretta is beautiful but conflicted. They’re goofy or silly as the script requires it, but none of them have any depth.


The play has a nice way of doling out details and absurd situations as it moves along, but it’s rarely content to present a gag and let it sink in – instead, the same joke has to be repeated over and over again. It’s funny the first time Michael and Dave get into a knock-down, drag-out fight while Loretta rolls her eyes in exasperation, but not so much the fifth time.


The retro motel room set is understated and effective, except for the moment they completely break with realism and the actors move one wall to make room for a film set for their “sex video” (a sequence that drags on far too long). And surprisingly, for a play that revolves around sexuality, there’s very little sex – a quality I found refreshing. Instead, Featuring Loretta is mostly talk – snappy one liners, sarcastic quips, and graphic innuendo – but it’s fun all the same, and the ending manages to be satisfyingly open while offering a tentative resolution to one part of our heroine’s dilemma. If nothing else, Featuring Loretta will certainly be relatable to any girl who’s dated a bunch of losers or gotten herself into a mess she can’t control.




Featuring Loretta runs until June 20 at the Factory Theatre. For more information, visit www.factorytheatre.ca. (UPDATED)

Related articles: (stage, factory theatre, featuring loretta, george f. walker)

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