Half worm, all girl: Cherry Red Productions examines popularity

Worm Girl is the loser we all loved to hate in high school, except she’s half-worm, half-girl, and all the more unstoppable for it. She’s got no friends, but that doesn’t keep her from thinking that she does. Nor does she let her wormy body get her down – she can talk hair, makeup and clothes with the best of them, never mind the fact that she has no eyes or arms or skeleton to speak of. Despite such a catchy idea, “Worm girl” tends to leave some viewers in want of something more.
At its core, Cherry Red Productions’ new play is about courage – courage and self-acceptance. The play is peopled with characters that struggle against misunderstanding, simplification and pigeonholing by high school society.
Created by New York playwright Andrea Thome, “Worm Girl” is a development upon a character Thome created for Cherry Red’s “Dingleberries,” a series of shorts written by several authors, all taking place in the bathroom.
“Worm Girl” follows the personal journeys of two characters – Worm Girl (Monique LaForce) and Derek (David Guess). In classic Cherry Red fashion, there are a lot of poop and penis references to keep the action rolling.
For all her perk, Worm Girl is hurting and lonely inside, seeking consolation in other half-half characters such as Cat Woman, Mrs. Butterworth and Superman (he’s half-super, half-man).
Derek is the high school’s Mr. Football. He’s hot, muscular and perpetually in action, followed by a barrage of girls who just want to do him. Oh Derek! But he has his own secrets. No, he’s not gay! But he does have a rather curious predilection for worms and things of the sort. It’s an obsession that manifests itself in the use of taxonomic terminology that has way too many syllables for a jock to be using. So he is forced to suppress it and indulge the masses with his hard little body and feigned ignorance.
Between Worm Girl and Derek are Straci (Kate Debelack) and her cohorts, or bitches, Spaci (Eva Salvetti) and Lacey (Richard Renfield, who could have used a little lipstick to go with the pink wig). Straci is the uber-bitch who wants her man and will do anything to get him – including rigging the Pakistan Winter Olympics.
The first segment of the play takes place within the rather hermetic environment of a high school, however, as Straci’s rage towards Worm Girl intensifies, the play begins to take deviations.
First, there is a look into Worm Girl’s past that shows us how her worminess came about. But this explanation comes a little too late in the course of events. By the time the audience is given back story, it has ceased to matter very much
The other deviation is the 3000 Pakistan Winter Olympics. Why 3000? I’m not sure. Why Pakistan? Because it’s funny.
The final segment returns to the high school, where it’s prom time and Straci has finally snagged both Derek and the prom queen title. But, after the absurdity of the Pakistan Winter Olympics, prom just doesn’t hold up. While Mother Earth Worm does make an appearance, this final part doesn’t flow well from what came before it, whether it’s the scene itself or the overpowering absurdity of the Olympics scene depends on the audience.
In all, “Worm Girl” is an entertaining little caper that throws in its little political quips (“They better hurry up and start the race or the U.S. might invade Pakistan too!”). Still, you have to be in the mood to put up with lulls in the humor and extended slow-mo action sequences.

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