Sunday, March 24, 2013

Quick Hit Theater Review: Really Really

 Lauren Culpepper and Zosia Mamet in a scene from MCC Theater’s Really Really © Janna Giacoppo
Really Really
By Paul Downs Colaizzo
Directed by David Cromer
MCC Theater

What’s It Really, Really All About?
College athletes Johnson (Kobi Libh), Cooper (David Hull) and Davis (Matt Lauria) cope with the stress of midterms by hosting the campus party of the year. More reserved, and responsible Johnson doesn’t stay, and is surprised to hear the next morning from Cooper, who listened at the keyhole, that Davis got lucky. Even more surprising is the identity of the woman: Leigh (Zosia Mamet, daughter of playwright David Mamet making her debut in a long-form play), the girlfriend of their other teammate, Jimmy (Evan Jonigkeit) who was away during the party.

Cooper wastes no time making sure that Jimmy finds out. Devastated, he confronts Leigh, who tells a different story. She claims that Davis raped her and that she lost their baby as a result. Leigh’s religious roommate, Grace (Lauren Culpepper), returns from a Future Leaders of America conference to discover the developments and tries to help Leigh, but might have ulterior motives. Also lending unwanted assistance is Leigh’s visiting sister, Haley (Aleque Reid), who reminds her of their abusive past. She takes steps to ensure that Leigh will have a future with Jimmy.

The strength and loyalty of all the relationships are tested as Leigh files a complaint with the college and Davis is suspended. He can’t remember anything about the night in question after the keg was delivered, but his attempts to get Leigh to put together the missing pieces of the puzzling night for him backfire with surprising results.

What are the Highlights?
David Cromer directs. His name in the credits is enough to justify a night at the theater – the man is a genius. A bonus here is a revealing, very contemporary well written play by Paul Downs Colaizzo in his New York playwriting debut. Its depiction of the “me” generation is realistic – frighteningly so – with its raw language and situations that unfortunately are too common among the college-age crowd. Pleasing plot and character-development twists keep the audience engrossed and guessing about who is telling the truth in this he-said, she-said. 

Cromer doesn’t get in the way of the material and coaches the ensemble to sobering performances. A nice touch is having Leigh step down into the house and address the audience with her speech to her future fellow future leaders of America. The significance that these rather unpleasant, selfish kids are our next generation of leaders is "really really" chilling.

What are the Lowlights?
Though Grace speaks as though she could be associated with Christianity, her actions don't reflect biblical choices in her lifestyle. That's not to say that Christians don't make poor choices, but let's just say that the stereotype of Christians as being hypocritical or stupid gets played out on stages far more than a depiction of Christians who actually know what they believe and behave accordingly. It's getting old.

Depressing material that's hard to watch, but only because it’s so true.

Other information:
Really Really is the first play in Colaizzo’s “Want, Give, Get” trilogy. The play, presented by MCC Theater at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St., NYC, has been extended through March 30. Tickets and info: http://www.mcctheater.org/shows/12-13_season/reallyreally/.

Christians might also like to know:
-- Strong language (lots of it)
-- Rap
-- Sexual actions an dialogue
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Derogatory terms used in reference to women

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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