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Magenta Giraffe Theatre has its first world-premiere production in The Current, by new playwright Sean Paraventi. The story of four friends, a few gallons of tequila, and one memorable bachelorette party is given appropriate preamble by sound designer Frannie Shepherd-Bates's pre-show playlist: circa-1990s Now That's What I Call Music! hits that invite ironic appreciation, a parade of exceedingly popular, irritating, overplayed, yet irresistibly addictive party tunes. Viewers raised on these songs might outwardly groan at them, but they secretly know all the lyrics. As directed by Molly McMahon, this estrogen-packed show has a similar feeling of succumbing to what we might profess to resist.

Mary (Jaye Stellini) is about to be married, and the first stop of her bachelorette party is a visit to the psychic Madame Camille (Shepherd-Bates). Not only does Mary get a reading, so does each of her three friends, although most appear to lend little credence to the practice. Indeed, the unfamiliar surroundings invite rampant nay-saying, primarily from skeptic Angie (Angie Kane Ferrante) and cynic Sharon (Kirsten Knisely), the latter of whom wishes loudly to be somewhere else. Both the relationships and the action of the play fare much better when the characters buy into the psychic's predictions; in particular, the pure faith of doe-eyed Darlene (Jaclyn Strez) is injected with both humor and unfathomable sweetness, and her scenes invite a camaraderie that's quite engaging.

After a slew of unfinished readings and a hasty departure for boozier pastures, the ladies return to Madame Camille in the second act, after their marathon evening of drinking. McMahon directs the ensuing farcical elements well, using the staircase of Gwen Lindsay's shabby-chic set for maximum voyeuristic effect. Forced into the straight-man role of confidant and therapist, Madame Camille is no worse than bemused at being awoken in the wee hours by falling-down drunks, dispensing with the trappings of her profession to neatly solve everyone's secret problems and cement their bonds through listening and common sense. Costumes by Lauren Montgomery reinforce the characters' identifying personality traits, and Neil Koivu's lighting captures the dim surroundings of midnight revelations.

Paraventi shows consistent forward movement and appreciable lightness in his five female characters, but the script's unflattering perspective on women can be rather irksome. Yes, this is how some women may act, from time to time, in certain company; it's nothing that hasn't been done on Sex and the City — in fact, viewers familiar with that cultural juggernaut will have no problem identifying the Miranda and the Samantha in this mix. The fact that the women talk exclusively of relationships, careers, and future motherhood only tightens the narrow scope of this world. Moreover, the out-of-context meanness of these purported friends isn't sufficiently countered by any realistic semblance of affection; their profession to be as close as sisters feels like lip service after all the naked contention preceding it. This negativity is most apparent in the story arc of one sexually assertive character, who is liberally slut-shamed for her choices by every member of the group, including herself.

The Current has abundant comedic potential, with the quick banter of its intellectually matched characters polished to a shine by the performers' savvy timing. The script's crowning accomplishment is in setting out numerous loose ends and tying each one back up, with some fun reveals along the way. Viewers who enjoy big, sassy, girl-powered comedy will find a well of it here. Even so, the play's attempt at a redemptive conclusion isn't sufficiently backed up by its characters' heart; when it comes to these ladies, congeniality is no substitute for bitchy repartee.


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