Sorry, no bonfire


T for throat, T for taste: Katherine Pappa and Heather Dara Williams give it up for the letter between S and U in <i>Vanities</i>.

T for throat, T for taste: Katherine Pappa and Heather Dara Williams give it up for the letter between S and U in Vanities.

Rated 2.0

Vanities is a mystery. The play itself isn’t a mystery, but its success is. Why this play about three self-centered, unlikable teens who grow up to be three self-centered unlikable women ever ran for five years in New York and became one of the longest-running productions in off-Broadway history is a complete mystery.Just as puzzling is why Delta King Theatre’s artistic director, Stephanie Gularte, whose good instincts for selecting plays for the Delta King usually serve her well, chose this irritating, trite drivel for the summer run. On the surface, it seems logical—it’s a three-woman play with very little action, so would work well in the small theater. But there’s a little thing called a script—and this one by playwright Jack Heifner is so bad it should have sent up warning flags.

The premise to Vanities is intriguing. We follow three girls during a 10-year period from 1963-1974—the first act is high school, the second act is college, and the third young adulthood. As stated in the ads, this “bittersweet comedy chronicles the lives of three Texas girls, set against the backdrop of President Kennedy’s assassination, the anti-war movement and the sexual revolution.” Not to mention the women’s rights movement.

Now, you can’t get a more exhilarating, turbulent, history-making era, so you’d figure this play would be about the growth of these small-town Southern belles. But none of these clueless girls are transformed at all through these historical events. Instead, they start out as snotty, self-absorbed cheerleaders, turn into snotty, self-absorbed sorority chicks, and finally into snotty, self-absorbed young women. The only way we see change demonstrated is through music, hairstyles, a dip into disco lust and the shock of shacking up.

Even this production can’t save this sad script. For instance, the three actresses start out with drippy, Southern accents, but two of them lose the drawl by the time they reach New York a mere couple of years later. The third keeps her accent, despite ending up in neighboring Connecticut (but maybe it’s southern Connecticut).

In fairness, the sincere cast—Amber Kloss, Katherine Pappa and Heather Dara Williams—try their darnedest to breathe life into this play. But despite the actresses’ and director Gularte’s valiant efforts, they leave the impression in the end that even they don’t really like the characters or the play itself. All in all, a disappointing outing for the Delta King.