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Popping the Cherry 

It's got a compelling plot and funny scenes, but it never challenges its own clichés

Wednesday, Feb 25 2004
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This new play by local writer Karen Macklin – who contributes to SF Weekly – follows two adult sisters in New York, victims of an abusive childhood. Lucy is a runaway who drops in suddenly on her sister Margo, a computer programmer living on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Margo has just started an amusing affair with the (female, British) CEO of her firm. Her life has order and grace until Lucy tromps in with her backpack and expects a place to crash. Lucy is a spoiled, self-loathing, overgrown child. She throws her things around the living room and fails to clean up; she flirts with a bartender-poet and invites him home to smoke pot; she has sex on the couch; etc. When the good sister/bad sister friction leads to a full airing of the family's dirty laundry, though, our balance of sympathy for the two women wobbles. The play has some funny scenes – especially between Margo and her lesbian boss – but never challenges its own clichés, from Upper East Side snobbery to open-mike night at the local pub (which starts with promising satire and ends in a mire of earnest poetry). Macklin knows how to plot a story, but her dialogue feels willed rather than observed, and the acting under Christian Phillips' direction fails to flesh things out.

CORRECTION: The Lucy character does not have "sex on the couch" with the bartender-poet. In fact, she simply falls asleep on it with him. SF Weekly regrets the error.

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