The Early Girl
Downstairs Lady Theater Productions at Breakthrough Theater
Written by Caroline Vava
Directed by Vicki Wicks
Starring Kelly Solberg Carol Jacqueline Palumbo, Vicki Wicks
Sure, you’ve done stints at Mickey D’s or 7-11 and picked up some retail management skills, but do you know how to do closing in a bordello? I picked up a few pointers here, just in case I branch out one day. Young Lily (Solberg) comes to Madam Lana’s House of Illicit Pleasures where they charge $5 a minute to be in the same room with her. Think of it as $300 an hour and it sounds somehow more reasonable. All this happens in a small midwestern town where every guy in town spends vast sums here so clearly, they aren’t all Lake Woebegone types. Lily’s problem is twofold: she’s cute and fast and out performs the others, and she’s only here for a few months to raise money for her daughter. This makes her unpopular in a group that is much more desperate. Jean (Palumbo) has a longer-term commitment to professional sex, George (Dina Najjar) is better at it but not to Lily’s standards, and Laurel (April Tubbs) just does her job, dripping with attitude. House rules are important, and not answering the phone ranks high giving the story an easy punch-out when it’s over.
It’s a catty little drama, full of commentary on the modern labor market. Each girl owns a stake in the ground, and each emits a sense of desperation about the future. Morality is never an issue; these girls could just as easily be changing oil or painting fences except those jobs don’t pay nearly as well. The story I see here is: it’s possible to dip into the sex worker field and come out sober, healthy and with a nest egg for when you lose your looks. But it ain’t easy. And I also see a competitive and back stabbing zero sum game, all orchestrated by devious Lana. If she’s so concerned about the girls making telephone calls, why is the phone so easily accessible in the break room, and why doesn’t anyone have a cell phone? But these are just McGuffins, there to motivate a more personal story of a female group dynamic. I hear there was a nude night, I missed it but you might just get lucky. But in any case be prepared for explicit language and situations. Oh, yeah – look for the bowl of free condoms in the lobby. They’re on the house.