Where's Julie? Critical Review
Where's Julie? An Uncomfortably Hysterical Play
by Kat Reynolds
My friend Kat Reynolds is a grad student at the Savannah College of Art
& Design. For one of her assignments, she was asked to review a piece
of artwork - a play, painting, novel, etc. She chose my play "Where's
Julie?" Here is the terrific paper she wrote for her assignment:
Where’s Julie? An Uncomfortably Hysterical Play”

Review Analysis by: Kat Reynolds

Where’s Julie?, a play written by Kennedy Center short-play award winner
Daniel Guyton, takes audiences on a journey through the lives and living
room of an exceptionally generic American family. Correction: an American
family who is exceptionally crazy! If you enjoy the humor of South Park or Family
Guy, you are sure to enjoy Guyton’s dark comedies, of which this play is one of
the best. The script follows the young character Julie in her quest to decide
whether to keep or abort her unborn baby. She ultimately finds her answer with
guidance from a crew of characters such as the loveably racist Mom, atheist
sister Allison, and stoner boyfriend Hector. Each character fulfills their own
needs as they share moments of clarity with the audience. Throughout the play,
Guyton poignantly introduces two more unforgettable roles through The
Running Crew. These two Dick Van Dyke-esque comedians bring the
audience back to reality and fill in gaps on behalf of a missing intermission
and curtain call. All of these characters highlight two themes which Guyton’s
plays discuss: despicably loveable characters, and a matriarch’s struggle to
keep order. If you are an audience member who enjoys American family
parodies, I suggest you look up Guyton’s next performance of "Where’s
Julie?" and go see it!

The play’s script opens with a picture perfect set of a 1950’s household,
with one exception. A Nintendo set. This is the play’s central prop, and
represents the broken family unit. As a tertiary plotline, the audience
follows the game set and its main player, Jeffrey, on a quest to fix the
machine. Next, Guyton introduces the central family parental units app-
ropriately named Mom and Dad. These two present obstacles as Mom
desperately tries to earn love and attention from her husband, while Dad
desperately tries to fill his various dinner plates. As the parental figures
attempt to create order in their own home, two new characters are introduced
across town in Allison’s apartment.

Julie and Allison are sisters who have left Mom and Dad’s nest in search of
Band-Aids for their own lives: one needs a job and the other a pregnancy test.
Allison presents her symbolic Nintendo as her failure to get a grip on life
because Julie is “in the way.” Julie meanwhile is creating a butterfly effect in
each household as the readers see how her decisions affect everyone around
her. This script culminates with her most crucial decision: SEX.  In Allison’s
absence (cue melodramatic music), Hector takes the scene as Julie’s
clueless, stoner boyfriend. Within a conversation, Julie unveils to Hector that he
is, in fact, the father of her unborn child. How else can he appropriately
respond, but lighting up a fat joint?

With no support from her sister or boyfriend, Julie’s last resort is God, or
something close to it. Margaret is a religion-loving, Jesus-praying sixteen year
old who puts God “on hold” to help Julie through her problem. Another
character blends into the background, but must not go unmentioned. Jeffrey is
Julie’s Autistic brother, and has been reviewed previously as a representation
of Jesus. He is a character that challenges the family to make their own
decisions by uttering the word NINTENDO as creatively as Bill and Ted say
“DUDE!” Who knew one mid-90’s video game could present so much
compassion, frustration, and final advice when creatively placed in dialogue?

As mentioned before, the play introduces two characters as comic relief. The
Running Crew’s conversations kindly, but consistently remind the audience
that this is JUST a play, and the characters are JUST actors, and not
representations of actual people. I begin to wonder whether Guyton created
The Running Crew to get some laughs, take the heat off of himself, or to really
make a point that actors are “…actors! They don’t have…feelings….or
anything.” I have concluded, after much time spent dissecting the script, that
The Running Crew are ultimately a set up for the final scene. This is the scene
which literally brings the family unit into the audience, and forces the patrons to
accept the dysfunctional clan as they are and will always be – exceptionally

Guyton has a great talent in finding humans’ most despicable traits and
creating loveable characters who embody those behaviors in their daily routine.
For example, in his play I’m Not Gay!, the character Gary actually murders his
wife so she will not gab to their neighbors that Gary is, in fact, gay. The
audience allows him this relief because we feel sympathy for his need to be
what he considers normal. Similar characters appear in Where’s Julie? when
Mom blurts out oblivious racist generalizations, and when Dad beats his son
for being a “retard.” In this script the audience cuts Dad a break because, as
viewers, we suppose that Jeffrey is actually an all-knowing Jesus figure, and
Dad is far less mentally capable and doesn’t know any better. We forgive Mom
because, what can we say except “bless her little heart.”

Hector provides another example of a despicable character as he represents a
23 year old that not only sleeps with a 15 year old, but also sells, steals, and
smokes drugs! I cut him a break because he eventually decides to keep his
day job to support his budding family, and he appears to sincerely love Julie.
Would this attitude sway a judge in court? No! But somehow, Guyton convinces
his audience to care for these characters who are innately immoral. Each role
in the play presents a conflicting evil choice and relationship of acceptance with
the audience… except Jeffrey. He materializes moral support and a quiet ear
for many characters. In fact, many scenes actually sound like a prayer in which
Jeffrey just listens. This coincidence, if it is that, may further substantiate his
embodiment of a Christ figure.

Another interesting concept Guyton represents in his plays, and particularly this
one, is a strained relationship with the matriarch and her concept of order. In
Guyton’s dramatic play Attic, Mother tries to maintain control with drugs,
whereas, in this piece Mom attempts maintenance with advice, cereal, and a
clean house. Does Mom embody all that a 1950’s society has put on her –
cleanliness, caretaker, and non-judgmental confidant? Yes, but in the end, this
picture of happiness falls apart as she runs away with an audience member to
have an affair in the lobby!

Guyton often shares with the audience an inch of his vision, and allows us to
run a mile with it. This poor family is a delicious smorgasbord of immoralities
and power struggles, and Guyton allows us to taste the play’s themes and then
empty the serving dishes, just like Dad’s character, with lobby discussions
after the show. However, like the despicably loveable characters, at the end of
the day, I am willing to let this criticism slide. After all, Guyton may just be
presenting a mirror to nature. That large compact forces the audience to look at
our own behaviors and make decisions best suited to ourselves. What a smart
way to passively scold the public for their own behaviors!

I will say that I have both seen the play and read the script for Where’s Julie?,
so I have strong opinions of what works on stage versus just reading the play.
Both mediums are thought provoking, and laugh-out-loud parodies of what we
see in the daily American household. Holding a script in hand allows readers
to understand stage directions from the playwright’s perspective, and not from
a director’s interpretation. With that in mind, I would highly suggest reading the
play first if you enjoy lighthearted jokes at the expense of human
idiosyncrasies, and then viewing Guyton’s shows to watch hilarity ensue. To
learn more about the author or purchase his scripts, please view his web page