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Significant Other

a Comedy
by Joshua Harmon

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 4905

SHOWING : May 21, 2016 - June 19, 2016



Jordan Berman is looking for Mr. Right. As each of his close-knit girlfriends begin coupling off, he navigates the uneasy transition from gay best friend to bridesman. Through it all, he wades through a string of workplace crushes, awkward first dates and romantic misadventures of his own, wondering if he’ll ever find true love. AE favorite Joshua Harmon goes from Bad Jews to bad dates in this critically-acclaimed comedy about searching for love and moving on.

Director Jessica Holt
Evan/Gideon/Roger Jeremy Aggers
Vanessa Brittany Inge
Helene Judy Leavell
Kiki Cara Mantella
Tony/Will/Conrad Edward McCreary
Jordan Lee Osorio
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Insignificant Bother
by playgoer
Thursday, June 9, 2016
Joshua Harmon’s "Significant Other" tells the story of Jordan, a gay man whose female friends are all getting married and who himself can’t find a man to settle down with, or even date, although he does not seem at a loss to find men to obsess over and fantasize about. The first act sets up the situation for comic impact; the second act devolves into a pity party Jordan throws for himself. It’s fairly long, with a lot of filler, particularly people onstage looking out into the audience and pretending to watch couples dance to a complete song.

Jessica Holt has directed the show with a veneer of artificiality during the set-up. Lee Osorio, as Jordan, is all fey body language and stereotypical gay speech patterns; Cara Mantella, as Jewish-American Princess Kiki, is non-stop, over-the-top, overbearing chattiness. Brittany Inge, as Vanessa, is the sassy black friend, and Diany Rodriguez is Laura, the mousy schoolteacher. Edward McCreary, as an object of Jordan’s obsession, is all chiseled good looks; Jeremy Aggers, as a gay co-worker, is a caricature, plain and simple.

The men play other characters, but they all tend to the colorless and bland, bringing undue attention to the stunt casting. Judy Leavell, as Jordan’s grandmother Helene, comes across about as Jewish as a glazed doughnut masquerading as a bagel. Her character’s discussion of suicide comes out of the blue, and her repeated scenes, all starting with her grandson putting away new medications, get repetitious very quickly.

Ms. Rodriguez manages to create a fully developed, believable character, but she’s the only one in the cast to do so. Even she is directed to do cheesy dance moves that have been created strictly for comedic effect. Mr. Osorio suddenly attains affecting sincerity in the second act, but the damage has been done already in a first-act performance that is theatrical rather than believable. The self-pity in his second-act monologues (emphasis on the plural) is as off-putting as his sincerity is engaging.

The set has to accommodate a variety of locales. Shannon Robert’s design certainly does that, but not in particularly creative ways. Helene’s apartment is self-contained on a stage left platform above Jordan’s apartment stage center/left, which contains an upper-story window laughably close to the apartment’s door. Stage right is taken up by a counter under which Suzanne Cooper Morris’ everyday props are stored and by a series of steps and three semi-circular shells. Downstage is a bench, with a lit cutout on top (as on the counter and shells), surrounded by an oval dance floor. The floors are all a lovely golden oak; otherwise, a mottled green predominates.

D. Connor McVey’s lighting design makes use of six hanging light cylinders, hanging at various angles approximating the vertical, that change color frequently. Preston Goodson’s sound design is just about as busy, cluttering the soundscape of many scenes with almost-distracting background noise that gives the effect, as often as not, of a loud event occurring elsewhere in the King’s Plow Arts Center. Abby Parker’s myriad costumes include some nice wedding dresses, but garb the males in a variety of unflattering outfits. The females get their share of unflattering outfits too (and not only the ones that are supposed to be unattractive).

Jessica Holt’s direction does nothing to hide the deficiencies in Joshua Harmon’s script, which seems a couple of rewrites away from what the playwright probably intended. The tedium of the repeated script points is partly compensated for by the laughs that punctuate the script, but the tedium is enhanced by blocking that gives highly limited sightlines in many scenes for anyone not sitting dead center in the audience. The show is probably most appreciated by those whose age approximates that of the lead characters (late twenties) and who have used alcohol to lubricate the laugh box in their larynxes beforehand. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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