About the only redeeming feature of the lonely, annoying, whining and very out gay-boy/man Jordan Berman (Gideon Glick) in SIGNIFICANT OTHER is his Grandmother Helene Berman (a twinkling Barbara Barrie) who is suffering from the onset of dementia, has a predilection for various means of suicide, old photos and is absolutely charming.
She is the only aspect resembling anything remotely charming in this newest play by Joshua Harmon which goes on a bit too long with some diarrhea of the mouth monologues and melt downs by Jordan as his three best girlfriends – one by one – waltz down the aisle – leaving him in the lurch, wondering if he will ever be so lucky.
They party often. Drinks flow as well as private and intimate thoughts. They are best friends…until they find someone to help them get through life. Not necessarily happily. It reminded me of COMPANY – where Bobby surrounds himself with married couples while trying to find the girl of his dreams - but with a lot less finesse and a lot less insight.
The three girlfriends are your typical trio of New York go-getters. Kiki (Sas Goldberg) is the most outspoken and vibrant. Vanessa (Carra Patterson) is a more mellow, gum chewing editor. Laura (Lindsay Mendez) is a good listener who likes her food as well as men despite being a bit “schoolmarm-ish.” They take turns advising their good friend Jordan as to what he should or shouldn’t do when he obsessively falls for hunky Will (John Behlmann) at work with his size twelve green converse sneakers.
He doesn’t even know if Will is gay. Will is a history buff with a buff body as well. They go to a movie. There is little face to face conversation. Little connection. That is left to e-mails and texts and laptops in today’s theatrical offerings. What a sad commentary.
We are put in the position of bystanders as each of their sagas unfold at Laura Pels Theatre. At one point in Act II – yes there is a second act. I wanted to jump up and scream at Jordan – who was having his second melt down of the evening and shout at him –“Get over yourself!” It was too much as he berated Laura for abandoning him. It was her marriage but his funeral.
Why anyone would even think of dating this guy let alone spending two hours with him and company is questionable. He really has nothing going for him and he must be zilch in bed as well.
When things get tough he phones Grandma who despite her failings is honest and still wise from the old school. But does he learn from her? Don’t ask.
The affable John Behlmann along with the agreeable Luke Smith play the various other men in all their lives exceedingly well.
Director Trip Cullman with a keen eye for detail has done a great job in bringing the character’s quirks and this episodic play to life – with a glance or a pause that fills in where the sometimes amusing dialogue runs short.
Nice contemporary costumes by Kaye Voyce and an interesting set by Mark Wendland provide a spark of originality that is missing in this oft told tale of an unhappy gay guy who only has females to fall back on. A ROUNDABOUT production.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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