This, the play written by Melissa James Gibson and directed by Braden Abraham, lives up to the expectations raised by the program, which boasted it to be “a huge hit” and presented it as the “West Coast Premiere.” Many things in life may pale under that kind of pressure, but This stands its ground and definitely comes out on top. This is the epic tale of four friends—plus a somewhat random Frenchman—fast leaving the flexibility of their 30s to wake up to their “real” lives. Loveless relationships, unfulfilling careers, and encroaching loneliness populate the story, potholes that threaten to rip relationships apart, tearing characters from the very friends who keep them together. Set in modern-day New York City, the set of This looks like a loft apartment, one so realistic-looking it appears that the occupants have merely stepped out. It becomes much more as the actors on stage come into their own, manipulating the props and various moving doorways with ease.
The story is told in fly-on-the-wall perspective, and feels fresh and new. This is a very candid, honest glance into the “dinky” lives of everyday people struggling to navigate in the big, wide world. Though the sets, costumes, and sound designs (by L.B. Morse, Christine Meyers, and Gino Scarpino, respectively) are exceptionally well done, those aspects of the performance are just smoke and mirrors for the heart and soul of the play, the actors and actresses (Hans Altweis, Cheyenne Casebier, Nick Garrison, April Yvette Thompson, and Ryan Shams as the aforementioned random Frenchman) just being on the stage, filling up the space with their bodies and voices. The actors act their parts with a passion and commitment that, for 85 minutes, makes the viewer forget these are real live people with their own real, live families and lives and that the New York City apartment on stage is not, in fact, reality.
This embroils the viewer into a whirlwind of humor and emotion, sorrow and joy, before plunging them back to earth at the end of the show, still mulling over the insignificant decisions that can so drastically change a person’s life.
Seattle Repertory Theatre
Through May 15
NOTE: recommended for ages 16 and up for profanity, adult situations