The three protagonists of "Boys' Life" probably represent somebody's idea of a cross-section of contemporary American males in their 20s.
Don is a handsome, somewhat thick-witted jock who wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up but now settles for reading science fiction. Phil is the nebbish, the socially insecure intellectual of the group, and Jack, a slick, would-be swinger, is the leader of the trio, if only because he's the only one with any initiative.
The Howard Korder play, which examines a year in the lives of these three men, concludes a six-night run this weekend as an all-student production at Moorpark College, directed by Theater Department Prof. Katherine Lewis.
"Boys' Life" is awkwardly written (everybody's constantly addressing one another by name: "What do you want, Phil?" "It's got nothing to do with you, Phil") and more than a bit superficial. But last week's youthful, largely female, opening-night crowd seemed to find plenty to identify with.
That could be because virtually the entire play is about relationships--between the "boys" and with the various women who pass through their lives. And, not surprisingly for a group of aging adolescents, the three interact with a lot more understanding than they use in relating to the womenfolk.
Some of the encounters are amusing--a couple downright funny--and others are more poignant. Chances are that everybody in the audience will recognize, if not admit to, parallels with their own experiences.
Gerald Vandiver and Kent Patrick Hatch play the roles of Jack and Don rather broadly. Vandiver seems to be a cross between Steve Martin's "wild and crazy guy" and the Casey Kasem disc jockey paradigm (his brief quotation from Robert Frost comes as quite a shock; his taste for literature otherwise seems limited to Playboy pictorials). The Hatch character resembles someone who has seen too many Woody Allen movies. Gary Schaffner's Phil is more enigmatic, showing the most character when resorting to sci-fi novel imagery to chat up a woman.
Cynthia Kershaw, Julie Burton, Julia C. Peacock, Kimberly Sumpter and Suzanne Perez portray the women who appear, however briefly, in the boys' lives; Peacock the most assured.
One of the funniest moments is supplied by Dann Warick, who keeps intruding on a potentially tender moment between Hatch and Kershaw--it's a well-paced scene, with a strong payoff.
Certain aspects of this production ring false: The reference to '80s rock band Quiet Riot during a "remember the '70s" quiz, one woman's assertion that you see condoms on TV all the time, and the notion that this bunch would be hip enough to hire a Zydeco band to perform at a wedding--apparently, the person who came up with the background music for this production assumed that all accordion music is pretty much alike.
* WHERE AND WHEN
"Boys' Life" continues tonight through Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Moorpark College Forum, 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark. General admission tickets are $7. Call (805) 378-1444 for further information.