Yard Gal is a close enough version of the real thing though to spark thoughts of: Where can we intervene? The system has clearly been absent for the girls on so many levels, and when they finally come under its radar, they are so jaded by program-speak that they are all but closed to its help. It's stunning, in fact, how ignorant they seem about the misfortune of their conditions, and how recklessly they reproduce them. Marie, for example, who has been abused by her father, reports with pride about "spitting and throwing shit" at the girls (like Boo) from the kids' home. Boo in turn marvels at Marie's easy ability to separate things: After one of many tragedies, she remarks with admiration on Marie's quick recovery, "She was like a split personality." The currency here is split or--like the dance club's nightly knifing victims--be split.
Enclosed in the play's program is information about the co-producer, Clean Beak, a British initiative that offers a creative outlet for ex-offenders. The play has no obligation to suggest a possible pre-prison intervention for Boo and Marie, and neither does it directly point a finger at the forces most directly responsible for the social ills. (Certainly it establishes the allure of the clubbing-and-drugging life.) However, the feeling of helplessness Yard Gal engenders is frustrating, if realistic.
The performances of Duncan-Brewster and Lowdell are, like the friends themselves, mutually enhancing. Duncan-Brewster's Boo can be tough as nails, but opens up with the confessional style of a poet and manages to make it ring utterly true. Lowdell as Marie embodies beautifully the contradictory figure of one who is vulnerable yet ruthless. The direction of Gemma Bodinetz, who directed Shopping and F**king two seasons ago at New York Theatre Workshop, works hand-in-hand with Prichard's script. She makes the numerous transitions from reflection to action truly breathtaking. Es Devlin and David Korin's set, four movable metal milk-crates, contain all the props the girls need, and so serve as an elegant metaphor for their transient existence. Frances Aronson's lighting scheme sets an effective backdrop for the play's shifts in tone, and Bruce Ellman's apropos club music keeps our blood pumping along with the characters'.
MCC, which brought us the original production of 1999's Pulitzer Prize-winner, Wit, has another strong piece of drama here. As Boo says yearningly of Marie at the end of the play, "Some people, they stay inside you...she's always somewhere in my mind." The same could be said of Yard Gal.