Teenage angst. Wondering what the world holds in store. Definite opinions about almost everything. Thinks women are dumb, and hates phonies and people who try to crush your fingers when you shake hands with them. 16-years-old and a junior at an exclusive prep school.
Sounds like classic Holden Caulfield, the memorable character in "Catcher in the Rye."
Teenage angst. A view of men as "middle aged ass-less-ness." Sees someone with a "face like lunchmeat." 16-years-old and a junior at an exclusive prep school.
Just like Holden Caulfield. But this one comes complete with a white blouse, a tie, a tartan kilt and a pair of white knee socks. Instead of Holden, we have Bernadette, whose story is told in "The Edge of Our Bodies," the Adam Rapp play that opened at Youngblood Theatre over the weekend.
Caulfield is the epitome of the disaffected teenager, seemingly disgusted by the life around him while torn with wonder over what he is going to do with his life, now and when he is older. He is teenage angst.
The girl version of Caulfield is Bernadette, played in this production with stunning depth by Megan Kaminsky. It is essentially a one-woman play, with a brief and slightly disconcerting appearance near the end by a maintenance man who strips all the trappings from her life.
Bernadette is a privileged teen. A student at a tony prep school. A summer home. But there are dark corners in her life.
She is 16 and pregnant. We first see her on a train to New York to find her 19-year-old boyfriend Michael and tell him about her pregnancy. She reads from her personal journal as she rides the train, letting us in on the well-defined observations she makes.
Like teenagers over the world, she is not shy about her opinions and perfectly willing to have an opinion about everything around her. She includes herself in her judgements.
"Lying always makes me feel like my hair is falling out," she snaps thoughtfully, as her journey to Michael draws closer.
We see many of the truths in Bernie’s life, even though she may have incredible difficulties seeing them herself.
She has a mind that is uncluttered by uncertainty. She gives delicious renderings of her encounters with an old man on the train, the dying father of her boyfriend and the mysterious man – "Mark with a C" – who she allows herself to be picked up by and taken back to his hotel where it turns out his name is really Richard Romero. It’s okay, though, because she had introduced herself to him as Diana.
At some point, you want to stand up and shout at her to stop wallowing and get on with her life. Her father is having an affair with a stewardess, her mother wants to have an affair with somebody and Bernadette has a well-defined view of her own sexuality.
Like Holden Caulfield, Bernadette’s diligent belief in her grasp of life hides a child bedeviled with the kind of things that sort themselves out only with experience and age.
Kaminsky’s performance is a marvel to behold.
For 90 minutes, the stage is hers and she wraps us up in a soft, sensuous hold that keeps us riveted. She understands that this play is a series of memorable moments that eventually wind together into a spectacular whole.
She has a quiver full of arrows, and the audience is her target. She tells the stories, and we listen.
Rarely will you see a play with such an intimate connection between an actor and an audience. She has our curiosity, our sympathy, our amazement, our joy and sadness and most of all, our love.
Youngblood has developed a history of presenting brave and unique shows. This certainly fits. A 16-year-old girl talking about being in a hotel room with a stranger, baring her breasts to stimulate him and describing the act of watching him in detail demands serious attention from a serious audience.
The best thing about Kaminsky is how clearly she brings an added dimension to Bernadette. Many people think she is just running away from her life or running to something she thinks is better.
Under Kaminsky’s outstanding performance, it’s clear that Bernadette is doing both.
"The Edge of Our Bodies" runs through March 1. Information is available at http://youngbloodtheatre.com.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Dave Begel
Published Dec. 18, 2014
The latest application for Silk Exotic to open a strip club in Walker's Point has been turned down again. But there is plenty of evidence that the committee had already made the decision before the public hearing began. This battle is not over.
Published Dec. 16, 2014
How do you explain why a hot, successful team like the Green Bay Packers lose to the Buffalo Bills when there is so much at stake? It's a complicated answer, but it isn't just statistics or even motivation that seem to be the problem. A loss like that may not even be avoidable at some point.
Published Dec. 14, 2014
The sixth edition of "Who Killed Santa" by the Umbrella Group has become a highlight of the holiday season in Milwaukee. But unlike almost all the other traditions, this one not only takes the gloves off, it never even had any gloves. If you like your humor both funny and raunchy, this show is just for you.
Published Dec. 13, 2014
A 50-year-old play about race seems like a perfect fit for the discussions raging across American today. And while the play has lessons, they get lost in too many amateur moments in the production by World's Stage Theatre Company.
Published Dec. 11, 2014
"A Christmas Carol" is a story well over 110 years old but it still has a magic and the MilwaukeeRep manages to find new pieces to keep the audience delighted. It is running for the 39th consecutive year at The gorgeous Pabst Theater.
Published Dec. 11, 2014
Cases in New York, Ferguson and Cleveland are getting a whole lot more press than the case of Dontre Hamilton here in Milwaukee, It sure seems like his story deserves to be right up there with the others.
Published Dec. 10, 2014
This is the season when thousands of people try to do something special for those less fortunate. There are lots of good causes out there, but a tiny South Side church runs programs for the homeless and it has a very special fundraiser coming up.
Published Dec. 9, 2014
Marquette has always had a pretty good basketball program but there is something about the whole thing that doesn't inspire love. As a matter of fact, in some quarters, it's very easy to hate the Golden Eagles.
Published Dec. 5, 2014
Hillary Clinton wants to be president and somebody thought they ought to write a country song about it all. The song stands no chance of finding it's way onto the Billboard charts and is really the most trite example of country music. They ought to be ashamed.
Published Dec. 5, 2014
Once again the beautiful story of "The Nutcracker" will sail into Uihlein Hall for the holidays. It's a spectacular and warm show for the entire family. It's especially fun for all those little girls in black leotards who dream of being a dancer someday.