Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors
Barbara Barrie and Gideon Glick in Significant Other. Photo: Joan Marcus
Reviewed by Elizabeth Ahlfors
It's not fun watching your best friends find their life partners and celebrate at their weddings, leaving you standing alone clutching a soggy hanky in your fist. It's not fun to be the only one who has not found a significant other, desperate you never will. Yet in the hands of playwright Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews), the Broadway production of Significant Other has fiercely funny moments. Well, funny in a bittersweet but truthful way.
Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening) plays Jordan Berman, sweetly neurotic, Jewish, gay and single. Trip Cullman directs the play with care and understanding, highlighting the friendship between Jordon and his three closest friends. They are young millennial New York women with ripping humor and deeply felt yearnings, the irrepressible Kiki (Sas Goldberg), touching, fatalistic Vanessa (Rebecca Naomi Jones) and Jordan's number one BFF, Lindsay Mendez as Laura, funny, down-to-earth and plump. At the top of the play, the four friends are all facing 30 and ready to find that special someone, settle down and have a soul mate to travel with through the years. One by one, the women find love while Jordan's relationships just fizzle out. He wants what they have.
Not mentioning any other family connections, Jordan is close to his grandmother, Helene, portrayed with gentle layers of wit and experience by veteran actress Barbara Barrie (Company). A bit forgetful but supportive, she shares a loving relationship with Jordan. She knows about romance and friendship and listening to his kvetching, she advises him that life is a long book and you just have to get through the chapters. By the end, he is mindful of the truth in her words.
As Kiki, Vanessa and Laura find their Mr. Rights, they all go through the traditional pre-wedding celebrations and Jordon, as usual, joins in. At their weddings, he always gives a reading but it was when Laura, the last of the group to marry, has her bachelorette party that Jordan hits an emotional wall. This is Laura's self-centered moment in the sun and, eager to include him, she is hurt because he cannot join her enthusiasm. Feeling abandoned, Jordan, however, has a hissy fit. It's not pretty but understandable. He doesn't want to celebrate anyone else's happiness, even Laura's. "You tell me I'm your best friend but it's so different, it's so, so different and I feel so alone." His words to Laura are heartbreaking, "Your wedding is my funeral"
Mark Wendland designed a sleek, functional set used as Jordan's New York apartment, as well as hints of the building hallways and grandma's home. Japhy Weidman provides definitive lighting and costumes by Kate Voyce are up-to-date.
Luke Smith and John Behlmann are fine supporting players with various roles. Jordan's friends and his grandmother are all distinctively portrayed characters, adding layered portraits to this universal play. Mendez is a stand-out with affable tangibility as Laura but it is Glick who grasps the audience with a sensitive, intuitive portrayal of Jordan. His moments of humor ring with wry honesty and his desperation is piercing, but that's life, isn't it? It's a long book and you have to get through it.
222-West 45 Street, NYC
Previews: Feb. 14, 2017. Opening: Mar. 2, 2017. Open Run
Running time: 2hrs. 15mins. One intermission.
Cast: Gideon Glick, Barbara Barrie, John Behlmann, Sas Goldberg, Lindsay Mendez, Luke Smith and Rebecca Naomi Jones
Playwright: Joshua Harmon
Director: Trip Culman
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors
Also can be read on TotalTheater.com