This production from The Social Club Theatre is Brechtian in its approach. We truly don’t ever get to know the characters, what their jobs are, why they are sharing an apartment – and we don’t need to. In yet another season of juke-box musicals on Broadway, the script and the staging are swimming against the stream. This is a piece of theatre that makes one think, not just during the production but the next day and thereafter.
Bartholomew (Matthew Zimmerman) and Milo (Justin P. Armstrong) are friends who share a common problem – they’re single and don’t want to be. In Bartholomew’s case, he dates but never seems to close the deal. Milo, meanwhile, never leaves the house. After being dumped by text, Bartholomew wonders why, Milo suggests reasons, and the rest of their evening (and ours) consists of discussions of fear, longing, and purpose. On the way, there is popcorn eating, a round of fisticuffs, and a trip to a nightclub.
At the nightclub, they meet bon vivant and man of the world Pasquale Fortuna (Eric Bermudez) and his silent sidekick Pancho Sanza (Andie Lerner). They try to set the boys right, with some success in getting them to admit to their own realities. In the end, however, it is down to Bartholomew and Milo to find their own way “even if it gets us nowhere.”
The dialogue is replete with lines like “the race of man persists in no small part because of ‘overthinking’. If we were all content with face value you and I would be out hunting wild boar while our wives gathered berries and wove baskets.” Or “Leaders of humanity from the dawn of time itself have been filled with the same looming oblivion that you now experience.” Playwright Alex Perez may not be quite the fan of Brecht I am (few are), but he is clearly channeling something from him.
Daringly, director Lita Lofton has added four Ladies (Taylor Harris-Butler, Marie Karcher, Irina Kaplan and Kelly Vaghenas) to the show, who among them have but one line. Dressed as vaudeville clowns or children playing dress-up, they are on stage as the audience enters, having a pretend tea party, blowing bubbles or wrestling with writers’ block and a typewriter at the same time. They remain in front of the audience almost the entire production. Why they are there and what purpose they serve is up to the audience to discern. Some will find them highly significant, while others will see no point to them at all. As I said, Brechtian.
Braden Hooter’s set felt less like an apartment than back stage at a small theatre (do I say Brechtian yet again?). Ethan Jones’ lighting and Bryan Williams’ sound design deftly turned that set into a New York nightclub with the flick of a switch. Milo’s dressing gown and slippers immediately created a sense of being a homebody while the varied costumes of the Ladies lent a sense of traveling circus sideshow to the affair – full marks to Alison Pugh’s costume work. Stage manager and assistant director Reina Rouzaud kepting all the balls in the air and all the plates spinning without tamping down on the deliberate chaotic nature of the story.
Running time: 75 minutes without intermission.
Even If It Gets Us Now Where is playing at the Access Theater, 380 Broadway, New York City. It opened February 14, and remaining performances are February 20-24. For tickets, visit Brown Paper Tickets.