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This Is Our Youth, by Kenneth Lonergran
This Is Our Youth
Monday, April 17, 2006
I used to wonder where I was going after college. So did all my friends. My parents sure did.

So, where have I been? This play�s been around for a while but has managed to escape my attention. If it has escaped yours, get with it.
You may not deal drugs, you may not rip your parents off, and you may even be self-actualized (sure you are). Doesn�t matter. Go see this play while it�s here.

Kenneth Lonegran draws his characters so clearly, so understandably, that they almost reek their fates. With a lot of wit and pain and an element of choice vs. determinism, Lonegran�s This Is Our Youth encapsulates the aimless existence of three young adults on the cusp of their fate.

Dennis Ziegler (Alexander Brooks), in whose sparsely decorated apartment the play takes place, is a frenetic, witty, small-time drug dealer. The apartment itself, with its throwaway decorations and the pathetic smattering of photos on the wall, are an apt reflection of Dennis�s life...temporary, uncommitted, desolate.

Warren Straub (played by Tony Larkin) is Dennis� dispirited, not terribly bright long time acquaintance. Appearing at Dennis�s door after stealing $15,000 from his abusive father, Warren is like white bread looking for roughage. Completely dominated by Dennis, much as he was by his own abusive father, Warren barters his devotion to Dennis and cadges a spot on the floor and a complicated solution to the theft problem.

Jessica Goldman (Bethany Anne Lind) steps in and completes the triad as a sexually inexperienced and emotionally starved young woman who is drawn into a relationship with Warren in an almost accidental manner.

After numerous events, ranging from funny to cataclysmic, both Warren and Dennis come to perceive the reality of their existence. Warren at the end of Act 2 is not the same Warren you met at the beginning of Act 1. His change is slow but palpable, and it will probably stick. Dennis is another story; despite an amazingly lengthy and emotionally dedicated monologue towards the end of the play, he will likely remain rooted. There is pain in that.

�This Is Our Youth� might seem aimed, with its urban sensibilities, to a 20-something crowd, and that�s too bad. Because there�s substance here. There�s humor laced with pain, excellent zig-zagging dialogue, and some really good performances .

Alexander Brooks plays the self-absorbed Dennis Ziegler with fervor and a great deal of spirited physicality. At once charming and abrasive, Brooks displays an occasionally flickering awareness that makes a fairly unlikeable character eminently watchable.

Tony Larkin, with his limpid eyes and homespun demeanor, portrays Warren Straub. His wheedling behavior towards Dennis illustrates the dominate/submissive nature of their relationship. Larkin is able to whine without irritating the audience.

Owning her scenes, Bethany Anne Lind imbued Jessica with the push-pull quality of a hottie-cum-matron, expertly maintaining a kind of charming awkwardness throughout the play.

I�m looking forward to seeing more from these guys. Kudos.

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