When it comes to classic fairy tales that delve into the deeper, darker side of adolescent female sexuality, "Little Red Riding Hood" pretty much takes the cake. Wolves in drag, that basket full of goodies, a treacherous forest, big sharp nasty teeth, and crimson all around—the symbolism is relentless in its nascent carnality. Trista Baldwin's play Patty Red Pants, directed by Joy Brooke Fairfield, plays fast and loose with the themes of this cautionary fable, giving the story a hip, lipstick-and- cigarettes tweak that sends it careening headfirst into the wised-up era of Bust and Bitch. Among Baldwin's more ingenious revisions is giving Patty (the Riding Hood character, played by Kristina Sutherland) a bad-girl best friend, Becky Bloom (Erin Stewart). It's their testy, rebellious, bawdy relationship that gives the play its whiplash momentum.
Live Girls! Theater, 2220 N.W. Market St., 800-838-3006, www.brownpapertickets.com. $9–$12. 8 p.m. Thurs.–Sat., 2 p.m. Sun.; through May 7.
The story is framed as a flashback, sparked by a chance meeting between Patty and Becky that sends Patty into a swoon of reminiscence. "We were so young," she says. "How did we make it? Were we a couple of caged animals?" These memories revolve loosely around the long-unsolved murder of a girl from their school. This crime, which occurred in the woods where Patty and Becky spent so much time, comes to channel and embody the amorphous, brooding threat of sexuality and the predatory world of adults.
Sutherland and Stewart, both fine actors, appear to have great fun depicting the dangerous goofing of high-school girls— the dreamy, edgy talk about boys, the zipperless fuck of lesbian exploration, the boozing and glue sniffing—but the two aren't given much to work with. Individual scenes occasionally pack a wallop, but the baggy narrative doesn't really hold together. Jason Sharp rounds out this small cast in the role of Jeremy, a boy for whom the girls may or may not be competing (he also plays the "Man" and the "Wolf"). The three generate some intriguing chemistry, but the play's journey toward sexual awakening doesn't lead anywhere new or surprising. RICHARD MORIN