nytheatre.com review by David Fuller
August 12, 2006
Fantasy, Girl begins promisingly with a woman (the playwright, LyaNisha Gonzalez) sitting and trying to overcome writer's block, with three women in identical gowns standing upstage watching her. This stage picture evokes chuckles of recognition, for surely those three are some sort of Motown chorus. Sure enough, Gonzalez introduces them as her three muses and for the next hour they help her on her journey through the trials of love with a man who doesn't seem to harbor similar feelings for her. When she needs help, support, or clarity, these three girls give it in snippets of R&B, pop and soul songs made popular by such groups as the Supremes. There are some deliberate echoes of Dreamgirls in the interplay between the muses (plus a quote or two from that musical) and the three women who play the muses are marvelous. They sing a cappella, sometimes in solos and sometimes together, and they are fun to watch as their musical comments are interwoven into the play.
This is a clever idea. I just wish I cared more about the character Gonzalez portrays. Perhaps it is just that the situation of possible unrequited love with her boyfriend is not very compelling. "He loves me, he loves me not" is not much of a plot. So, while I found the Motown muses idea to be inventive and fun, it's not being used here to support a story with much weight. The interaction among the muses is the most interesting thing about the play in its current form—but this interplay wasn't enough to hold my interest for the hour.
I wish I could give credit to the three women singers, who all have lovely voices, as well as to the actor with the rather thankless role as Gonzalez's lover, but there were no programs available. They, together with Gonzalez and their director Selena Ambush, definitely have something worth pursuing. They just need a plot with higher stakes to keep us involved. [Editor's Note: The other performers are Tory Andrus, Diana-Stacie Greenwell, Effy-Pernell Walker, and Flo-Traci Tolmaire.]