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Miles and Ellie at Phoenix Theatre 

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click to enlarge Ellie (Lisa Ermel) and Miles (Zachariah Stonerock) in Miles and Ellie at Phoenix Theatre.
  • Ellie (Lisa Ermel) and Miles (Zachariah Stonerock) in Miles and Ellie at Phoenix Theatre.

The Phoenix Theatre’s latest offering, an anti-romantic comedy with a quasi-feminist central character, Ellie (Lisa Ermel), misses the mark, but just slightly.

The play opens with the quirky, nerdy, teenage Ellie reliving memories of her lost first love, Miles (Zachariah Stonerock). The pair is predictably adorable as their puppy love plays out in Act One. Ellie’s hellaciously perfect family, political candidate father (Paul Hansen), perky cheerleader sister (Carrie Schlatter) and frustrated housewife/mother (Jolene Moffat) add humor to the gentle romance.

Early on Ellie makes many a feminist argument, raging against the expectations placed on her by family and society both. Yet the play, written (Don Zolidis) and directed (Bill Simmons) by men, fails to present a truly strong female character.

By Act Two, Ellie is 20 years older, and rather than breaking free from gendered tropes, she's allowed others to define her by past failed relationships. And though her love story comes to a satisfying conclusion, her personal worth is equated to whether or not she can maintain a successful romance.

However, the ensemble does an excellent job of portraying a dynamic family. And the play is very funny, though don’t expect more than a few good laughs.

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