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Comic adult fairy tale spotlights first love — and monsters

Melissa Claire and Jeffrey Weissman play best teenage pals in Marin Onstage’s “Pinky.” Photo by Gary Gonser.

“Pinky” is a refreshingly sweet, innocent fairy tale for adults.

Especially nerds. Or ex-nerds.

Especially at a time in U.S. history when my angst has risen to the level of a barbell with 150-pound weights resting on my shoulders.

“Pinky” is all about puppy love. And being smitten at first sight.

Like playwright David Templeton and virtually everyone else, I can vividly remember my first infatuation — a girl who didn’t know I existed.

Much later, at our 50th high school reunion, I told her about my ancient crush. “Oh, that’s nice,” she said.

I was devastated. Again.

But “Pinky” is different. Happily, it’s a comedy — not merely about unrequited love but about friendship and games.

Pinky (Melissa Claire) is loved and semi-stalked by her I’m-always-there-for-you best buddy, David (Jeffrey Weissman), an awkward, geeky, Pig Latin-speaking 16-year-old immersed in Dungeons & Dragons, “Lord of the Rings” and similar heroic tales.

She’s determined not to break his heart but still wait for her “real Prince Charming” — even if, uneasily, she has to kiss three prospective princes during the vetting process.

Their story — replete with exaggerated swordfight, “feather-breathing” dragons, a mock kidnapping and “tombstone tag” played in a cemetery — is told mainly in flashbacks.

In parallel, alternating, juxtaposed monologues.

With the two actors portraying not only their main characters but a slew of equally awkward (and strangely normal) teenaged pals — and with director Carl Jordan making sure that alternate voices and diverse body language cue the audience as to who’s who at any given time.

Weissman is incomparable when squirming and making bug-eyed faces that delightfully take me back to Tom Hanks in “Big.”

And Claire excels with a variety of vocal idiosyncrasies and expressions of excitement and glee.

The 90-minute “Pinky” begins with a projection of the 1946 Jean Cocteau film, “La Belle et la Bête, a black-and-white French “Beauty and the Beast” classic jointly loved by both protagonists.

While the first act can now and then be wordy and sluggish, Act 2 — where the action occurs — is vastly faster and funnier.

Throughout, though, I could effortlessly follow the many twists and turns of Templeton’s reminiscence despite my never having been into wizards, goblins, Orks and the like.

The playwright admits, by the way, that — in contrast with the multitude of man-made monsters projected on a screen at the back of the stage — Pinky was real and, in fact, currently works in an office at Disneyland.

The Belrose Theatre in San Rafael now becomes the fourth venue for the play, which debuted at Sebastopol’s MainStage West in 2012.

Templeton’s been around the block a couple of times, too.

A regular writer for Santa Rosa’s North Bay Bohemian, he’s penned several other plays (“Wretch Like Me, “Drumming with Anubis” and “Polar Bears”). Of those, I’ve seen only the one-man, also-autobiographical “Wretch,” which I assessed as funny and touching.

My evaluation of “Pinky” is similar.

So, I surmise, is Templeton’s. With a huge grin during intermission on opening night, he said, “I forgot how much fun this is.”

“Pinky” will play at the Belrose Theater, 1415 5th Ave., San Rafael, through Nov. 18. Night performances, 8 p.m. Fridays and Sundays; matinees, 2 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets: $12 to $25. Information: or 415-290-1433. 

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