Ah, the mischievous human ego. It's need to feel superior has been getting mankind into trouble since, well the beginning of mankind (and womankind). When you are an artist, it seems the ego is at an almost heightened, crazy state, where a person will do almost anything to achieve fame, which most will tell you is equal in their minds to success. But, as they say, be careful of what you wish for.
In Pavement Group's latest and greatest production, ‘Girl You Know It's True', breakout playwright Bixby Elliot, calls into question the very fabric of what we may believe to be true just because we see or hear something. The most innocent of deceptions can snowball and lives can be destroyed but lessons can be learned.
‘Girl You Know It's True' follows a struggling middle aged white playwright who after years of trying, has not been able to get his worked produced. He is in a long term and seemingly happy relationship with his partner and each compliment the other very well. Thinking it is his white bread manner that is keeping the producers at bay from his work, our playwright (also named Bixby) conceives a little rouse. He creates another persona in which to submit his work under. That persona is Sid, a Black, wheel chair bound, Lesbian. (I bet I have your attention now!) Alas, success! His work is getting noticed. In order to make the deception continue, he employs a struggling actor to become Sid and meet with producers in New York who want to take his play to Broadway. As the fame monster rises and the deception grows larger, things begin to disassemble rather quickly. Juxtaposed with this story is the Milli Vanilli scandal told in a backwards timeline that begins with the duo giving back their Grammy after it was discovered that their entire musical empire was a lie as they where lip syncing to other vocals. Used brilliantly together, by telling the Milli Vanilli tale backwards foreshadows what our playwright is going to face if his deception continues.
‘Girl You Know It's True' is a full out comedy and that is what is so impressive about this play. It is in the humor and outrageous situations of these characters that we find the truth of the human condition. Director David Perez has allowed the material and the actors to evolve in a very natural way. There is great chemistry with the entire ensemble and together they work as a collective whole to tell the story.
The charismatic cast hooks the audience from the opening scene. As Bixby, John Zinn gives a very nuanced performance. As he gets more successful, he actually becomes more withdrawn. This takes a toll on his partner, Paul, played by Keith Neagle who gives the most extraordinary performance of the evening. As Milli Vanilli, Sentell Harper (Rob Piatus) and Armand Fields (Fabrice Morvan) are fantastic. As over the top as Harper and Fields are as Milli Vanilli, they also bring a very grounded, almost childlike quality to Rob and Fabrice, who were working at a Wendy's at the age of 18 when they were eaten up by the corporate media world. Again, things are never as they appear and we get to see the motivation of how these deceptions started.
The rest of ensemble also turn in great performances, including Sam Bailey as Sid (the Black, Lesbian), who had the audience rolling when she is called out and attacked while giving her acceptance speech at the Tony Awards and Cyd Blakewell, who plays one of the New York theatre producers (and other characters) possesses great comic timing and knows when to hold a phrase or a look just enough to get a laugh.
"Girl You Know It's True" is great fun to watch while at the same calling into question the fundamental perceptions of success and fame. Each audience member will surely take away something different, but the resounding notion of the story is all we really need to feed the ego is to have someone truly believe in us……or is it?
"Girl You Know It's True" runs through May 13th at the Chopin Theatre downstairs studio, 1543 W. Division St., Chicago. For more information including ticket purchases, visit