Theatre review: “A Girl Named Destiny” plays to actors strengths

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From the March 20, 2014 edition

While Rand Higbee’s “A Girl Named Destiny” tries to decide if it’s a romantic comedy or a superhero cartoon, it affords two appealing actors ample opportunity to air multiple personae. Strangers to each other, Destiny and Joe have had a near-collision on a city sidewalk and have since suffered mutual obsessions. As we come to discover, each has been seeing the face of the other in everyone they encounter. The fact that Jennifer Barlup (Destiny) and Andy Batt (Joe) play all the roles in the cute MadLab production makes this concrete metaphor for love at first sight blindingly obvious and easy to accept.

Playwright Higbee takes an odd little detour by giving Destiny a secret identity as the mysterious mask-and-cape-clad Vigil Ant, lamely fighting crime in the big city. More mundanely, the regular Joe goes fishing with his beer-swilling best friend Chuck, but all Joe can talk about is this woman he can’t get out of his head.

In Act One, we’re mostly with Joe, given a gently wistful demeanor by Batt, who unexpectedly breaks into love sonnets and lines from “Casablanca” in praise of his still-unidentified beloved. Barlup gamely plays the gruff fishing buddy, a sketch artist and a good-cop/bad-cop pair interrogating Joe. Act Two finds us following Destiny, equally smitten, as she argues with her good-for-nothing boyfriend, confronts another cop and dishes with her best friend Betty, each portrayed expertly by Batt.

Higbee echoes dialog between the two acts, giving a sense of expectation justifying the name of the title character.

Michelle Batt photos