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Arts & Culture

Everything Will Be Different unpacks our cultural war on innocence

Photo: Courtesy photo, License: N/A

Courtesy photo

The Proxy Theater Company opens its first full season with Mark Schultz's genuinely unsettling Everything Will Be Different, an unblinking examination of America's cult of beauty and its frequently disastrous effects on adolescent health. Mainly comprised of lean, two-person scenes, Schultz's play follows the various misadventures of self-loathing Charlotte (Allie Perez), a profoundly fucked-up teenager who longs to be the glamorous Helen of Troy. But with no Troy in sight, Charlotte instead escapes into a frightful, media-saturated dreamscape, one populated by a cosmetics-pushing "best friend" (Kathryn Krause) and a porn-pushing guidance counselor (Will Parker). Only once — in a rare, G-rated hallucination — does Charlotte dare to dream the American Dream: of a hunky, happy, football-playing boyfriend (Rodman Bolek) who only wants to love and be loved in return.

But mostly the play's about fellatio — because mostly high school's about fellatio. And when Charlotte's madcap fictions eventually alter the reality of those around her — including the collateral damage of her only sort-of friend (Aaron Aguilar) — the play is entirely gripping, and pointed, and sad.

Not everything works. The piece is awkwardly book-ended by stormy encounters with Charlotte's father (Nathan Thurman), an abusive widower. It's an extraneous-seeming character: sometimes people are fucked-up by society, not by their folks, and indeed, the play's social critique is only diminished by the sad sack figure of dad. Samantha Granberg's thoughtful direction uses to good advantage the thrust stage in Northwest Vista College's black box space (indeed, a seat to the sides is probably the way to go); the set is appropriately spare for both economy of narrative and, one suspects, economy of budget. The level of acting is pretty much what you'd expect from a troupe of young, college-trained thespians.

In fact, Proxy Theater Company is powered by present and former undergraduates at Trinity University, where I regularly traumatize students on a daily basis: It's an honor to be traumatized in return. If this company can continue to eke out further seasons of smart, socially-aware programming, then everything (at least in San Antonio) will be different, indeed.

Everything Will Be Different
$8-$32; 7pm Thur, 8pm Fri, 2pm and 8pm Sat
Northwest Vista College
Black Box Theatre
3535 N Ellison
(210) 865-7618
Through February 11

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