Review: Bobby Pin Girls (Nothing Without A Company)

| November 3, 2017

Debo Balogun (Tim), Peter Wilde (Danny), Emilie Modaff (Bree) and Grace Hutchins (Ana) star in Bobby Pin            

Bobby Pin Girls

Written by Janey Bell
Chicago Mosaic School, 1101 W. Granville (map)
thru Dec 3  |  tix: $20-$25  |  more info
Check for half-price tickets


Sweet, well-acted and laugh-out-loud hilarious


Emilie Modaff and Grace Hutchins star as Bree and Ana in Bobby Pin Girls, Nothing Without a Company

Northing Without A Company i/a/w Chicago Mosaic School presents
Bobby Pin Girls

Review by Lauren Whalen

Too often I’ve seen plays about young women that are stunningly inaccurate. Most of the time, they’re penned by older playwrights (more often men) who think they know exactly how young women speak, and completely miss the mark. Bobby Pin Girls is not that play. Written by Janey Bell, a 2016 graduate of Columbia College Chicago, Bobby Pin Girls brings back the drama, spontaneity and life choices of city twentysomethings in funny and sometimes uncomfortably accurate ways. Nothing Without a Company’s immersive world premiere is short but sweet, well-acted and laugh-out-loud hilarious.

Debo Balogun (Tim), Peter Wilde (Danny), Emilie Modaff (Bree) and Grace Hutchins (Ana) star in Bobby Pin

Set in an actual apartment, Bobby Pin Girls chronicles one night in the lives of roommates Ana (Grace Hutchings) and Bree (Emilie Modaff). Ana is an up-and-coming actress rehearsing for her Chicago debut (in an original musical that sounds all too much like many I’ve reviewed). Her childhood best friend Bree is an art school dropout working on a canvas while slugging Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and waiting for something, anything, to happen. As Ana puzzles over her sexuality and Bree starts texting her toxic ex-boyfriend Danny (Peter Wilde), a crazy evening ensues, full of people hiding in closets, ecstatic dances with Wheat Thins, and a friendship that endures through it all.

At its best, Bobby Pin Girls feels like a Chicago-set episode of “Broad City”, the hilarious Comedy Central series about two female best friends surviving New York City. Though I could have done without the flashing light sequences (especially the one with Danny and Bree, as I’ve seen that type of sequence many times before), the dialogue is fresh and – unlike many scripts about twentysomethings – feels very real. The circumstances are as real as the dialogue, and brought back memories of that decade where you’re not quite a kid but you don’t feel like an adult, and seemingly every decision may determine the rest of your life, or so you think at the time. Whether she’s writing what she knows or just what her friends have experienced, playwright Bell brings dark comedy and stark reality to her script.

Nothing Without a Company prides itself on location-specific theater, a genre that can go horribly wrong if all the details aren’t in place. Thankfully, NWaC is specific, detail-oriented and caring with their locations, and the apartment of Bobby Pin Girls is spot-on. From the paint on the walls to the IKEA couch, to the Avenue Q poster on a door, it’s basically everyone’s first post-college place. Seating is very limited, but worth it to be up-close and personal with the characters. Director Ben Kaye skillfully navigates the space for maximum visibility, leading to some very clever staging (and excellent fight choreography from Jaq Seifert). The actors are equally skillful: both Wilde and Debo Balogun (as Ana’s castmate and unexpected houseguest Tim) make the most of their supporting roles. Though she gets a bit shrieky at times, Chicago newcomer Hutchings is adorably scattered as insecure actress Grace. Modaff, an actor, podcaster and musician with a forthcoming feminist superhero webseries, is a force to be reckoned with, giving Bree a dry sense of humor and stellar comic timing as well as a very real, believable conflict with Danny.

Besides its humor, Bobby Pin Girls tackles issues such as addiction, self-harm and toxic masculinity without being manipulative or heavy-handed, which is a skill on its own. Nothing Without a Company has a winner on its hands, thanks to a strong script, thoughtful direction and acting that’s almost too real. Waiting for the Red Line after the show, I overheard a young woman on the phone to a friend, gushing, “this play, it’s the best I’ve ever seen! This is how we talk!” I can’t think of a better compliment to Bobby Pin Girls than that.

Rating: ★★★½

Bobby Pin Girls continues through December 3rd at Chicago Mosaic School, 2nd Floor, 1101 W. Granville (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 6pm.  Tickets are $20-$25, and are available by phone (800-838-3006) or online thru (check for availability of half-price tickets). More information at time: 75 minutes, no intermission)

Debo Balogun (Tim), Peter Wilde (Danny), Emilie Modaff (Bree) and Grace Hutchins (Ana) star in Bobby Pin Gir

Photos by Ray Goldberg




Grace Hutchings (Ana), Emilie Modaff (Bree), Debo Balogun (Tim), Peter Wilde (Danny)

behind the scenes

Ben Kaye (director), Anna Rose Ii-Epstein (producer), Ray Goldberg (production manager, photographer), Devonte Washington (stage manager, sound designer), Christina Casano (assistant director), Jaq Seifert (fight choreographer), Marissa Rutledge (production designer), Andy Lynn (lighting design), Connor Sale (assistant lighting designer), Olivia Nicole (costume design), Charlotte Drover (choreographer)

Bobby Pin Girls poster


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 2017 Reviews, Chicago Mosaic School, Lauren Emily Whalen, New Work, Nothing Without A Company, Video, World Premier, YouTube

Comments (0)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

There are no comments yet. Why not be the first to speak your mind.

Comments are closed.