Writer: Allen Barton
Director: Joel Polis
Reviewer: Gareth Davies
“Pick a life. Lead it. Move on.” That’s the advice Dan (Michael Yavnieli) gives Jeff (Jeff LeBeau) during a conversation that changes both their lives. Now middle-aged, they’ve been friends since day one of college, but haven’t met face-to-face for four years. Perhaps the history they share is all that connects them – can their friendship withstand the revelations and recriminations of the dialogue to which we bear witness?
In this one-act reflection on the second act of life, Yavnieli is phlegmatically bilious as Dan, casting even the most positive aspects of life in a cynical light. To him, the birth of his child was a wake-up to his own mortality; to LeBaeu’s more reflective Jeff, the birth of his daughter was joyously life-affirming. To Dan, divorce is the achievement of something truly “adult”, while to Jeff it’s only really a toxic experience.
Yet crude and intolerant Dan ultimately challenges Jeff’s (and, by assumption, our) left-wing, overly-PC niceties, suggesting the importance of asserting, and being true to, one’s own identity, metaphorical warts and all.
Cleverly funny and brashly challenging of social expectations, Allen Barton’s text rings true with many of its observations, such as the interference of modern media on offline relationships, and the inanity of phrases like ‘just saying’, and ‘no offence’. Even with the occasionally jarring shifts in tone, from righteous anger to playful camaraderie, the dialogue crackles along at such a pace it’s hard not to believe that these men have been friends their whole lives.
With some carefully crafted exchanges, showing two men grasping to maintain contact with each other, what we witness here is an insightful dissection of some big ideas about life and how to live it.
Runs until 24thAugust.