Chicago Theatre Review
The (Not For) Me Generation
Really, Really – Interrobang Theatre Project
In the early morning hours following an unbridled campus kegger, what appears to be just another “normal” weekend unfolds. Seven friends indulge in the usual morning-after, “God-was-I-drunk” babbling and boastings so familiar among the collegiate crowd. But when the talk turns to the sexual conquest between Davis, the Good and Leigh, the Engaged, the plot thickens and all bets are off. The conversations turn ugly as events and motivations are slowly revealed. Loyalty and friendships starts to flake away as a vicious, complicated web of sexual power and ambition takes over.
In Paul Downs Colaizzo’s modern day morality play, a “she-said, he-said” drama, everyone’s life changes for the worse, as the events of one early Saturday morning through the following Tuesday evening are relived, talked about and condensed into this two-hour production. Grace, a socially and career-minded young coed, and her engaged roommate Leigh stumble home from a booze-infused party, babbling incoherently and giggling. Grace has fallen and her hand is cut and bloody; Leigh seems to be suffering from something more emotional. The following morning Leigh confesses that at the party she had sex with Davis, one of the hottest studs on campus, who also happens to be a guy Leigh’s always lusted after. Regarded as a respectful, conscientious young man, Davis can’t remember a thing about the party because he was too tanked. Matters become more complicated when Jimmy, Leigh’s fiancee accidentally discovers that his girlfriend has slept with Davis. Jimmy also believes that Leigh’s pregnant with his child. In order to come off as the innocent victim and not lose Jimmy, Leigh tells him that Davis forced her to have sex against her will. Thus a drama, based upon guilt and gossip, unfolds and begins to spiral out of control. The final scene, as raw and emotionally gut-wrenching as anything ever seen, will leave audiences stunned and questioning everything they’ve come to believe about these characters.
Director James Yost has staged this important, devastating play about date rape and the goals of the “Me Generation” with bold, brave strokes. He doesn’t flinch from the brutal truth or hide behind theatrical conventions, coaxing the best possible performances from his young cast. Jeffrey D. Kmeic’s smart, economical set design allows one apartment setting to be used as two separate locales. With a shift in illumination, Claire Chrzan’s lighting adds two more locations. Kudos also go to Claire Yearman for fight choreography that’s frighteningly authentic.
The entire cast is superb. Ben TeBockhorst is everything the script says about Davis. He’s a decent, good-looking, kind young man, dedicated to his studies and his friends, which make the events of the final scene all the more shocking. As Leigh, the lovely Kristen Magee nicely plays all the guilt, desperation and sexual and emotional needs of this character with skill and ease. Michael Holding is convincing and funny as the Davis’ doofus, slacker roommate for whom four years of college is just a suggested amount of time. Maurice Demus and Sarah Gise are equally convincing as the boys’ moralistic buddy Johnson and Leigh’s self-centered, material girl sister, Haley. As Jimmy, Leigh’s affluent, entitled fiancee, Tommy Beardmore plays a young man with his own firm agenda, unflappable convictions and who’s a bit gullible when it comes to his love life.
Amanda Lipinski, reminiscent of Reese Witherspoon in “Election,” appears to represent the playwright’s true voice. She’s eager, earnest, a devoted a friend and as dedicated a motivational speaker as you’d ever find at such a young age. Ms. Lipinski’s two speeches, delivered at her weekend conference, are well-timed within this production and excellently performed.
Acting as a kind of Greek Chorus, Grace drives home the dominant theme about the “Generation Me,” reminding her audience that it’s all about selfish survival and doing everything you can to get what you want. That’s the name of the game, and ultimately that’s what this entire play is saying about people, especially today’s young people on the brink of adulthood. This is a production that should not be missed.
Reviewed by Colin Douglas
Presented February 13-March 15 by Interrobang Theatre Project at the Athenaeum Theatre, 2936 N. Southport, Chicago.
Tickets are available by calling the box office at 773-935-6875 or by going to www.athenaeumtheatre.org.
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com.