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    No. 11 (Blue and White)

    I get a clique out of you

    "No. 11 (Blue and White)" feels unpolished but once it hits its stride it's a strong exploration of high school viciousness.


    As "No. 11 (Blue and White)" begins, eight fresh-faced youngsters come out as if at a party, and one of them, Alex (Katie Walder), speaks to the audience.

    Written by: Alexandra Cunningham.
    Directed by: Daniel Aukin.
    Cast: Katie Walder, Joey Shea, Robin Taylor, Adam Groves, Hilary Edson, Nell Mooney, Shauna Miles, Liza Lapira, Amber McDonald.
    McGinn-Cazale Theatre
    Broadway at 76th Street
    Jan. 11 - Feb. 3, 2002

    "I never bring it up," she says. "Not that I would, but somebody else always brings it up before me. As soon as people hear where I went to school, they ask, 'Did you know him?' "

    It's a terribly effective bit of foreshadowing, because in the seemingly breezy high-school comedy that follows, we know something serious is going to happen to one of the characters before it's over.

    The less said about that serious event, the better, because it's a surprise and it gives shape to the whole story. And that's a good thing, because the first half of the play is frankly clunky. The one important thing it establishes is which kids are popular and which are social inferiors, but it does so through dialogue that's too good to be true but not good enough to be really clever. The popular kids — the kind who were too good to hang out with the likes of you, probably — seem a little too all-American to pull off the self-consciously bad attitudes they affect.

    The boys do plenty of chortling about it, and the girls come home to their parents after parties and insist, "Nothing happened," in such a way that you know something must have happened.  

    One thing you may notice about all the seemingly aimless talk in the first half is how much of it is about sex without necessarily bringing up the subject directly. The boys do plenty of chortling about it, and the girls come home to their parents after parties and insist, "Nothing happened," in such a way that you know something must have happened.

    The play finally starts to make an impact in the second half, after its defining event. The point of the play has everything to do with how the popular kids pull together to defend their own kind against both the unpopular kids and basic human decency, and the point is dramatically made.

    The play seems to end as imperfectly as it started, though. Alex, the quasi-narrator and the queen bee of the popular girls, seems to be telling this story after the passage of years with a regret that feels genuine. But her change of heart is explained — or perhaps not explained at all — with an abruptly launched monologue that feels like a completely unrelated piece of writing that playwright Alexandra Cunningham dropped in here just because she was pleased with it. It's a moving speech, in fact, but its relation to the story is never explained. It's one of several elements that make "No. 11 (Blue and White)" feel like a very strong play that just isn't quite ready yet.

    JANUARY 27, 2002

    Reader comments on No. 11 (Blue and White):

  • MORE THAN AWESOME!!!!!   from Jana P., Feb 25, 2002
  • Re: Joey Shea really is more than awesome   from Stubby the Newsgirl, May 25, 2003
  • Re: MORE THAN AWESOME!!!!!   from Bianca, Oct 25, 2005
  • Brutal Reality   from Bewildered but Amazed, Nov 25, 2004
  • I know where Joey Shea is   from Sam, Jun 23, 2005

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