Significant Other revels in the agony and ecstasy of being in your 20s and growing up
Tucked away on the ninth floor of the 23rd Street building in the Bernie West Theatre, audience members roared with laughter and froze in tearful silence at Significant Other’s millennial-focused comedic take on mocking love, marriage and death.
Joshua Harmon, the playwright, pieces together every possible concern a 20-something-year-old could have in the 21st century.
Friends getting married, friends having kids, hookup culture, nihilistic teasing of death, awkward first dates, self-image issues and many more have their fair share of time in the spotlight in Significant Other’s.
The story focuses on character Jordan Berman's persistent dilemma of never finding a boyfriend while his friends get hitched one by one.
It's not that Jordan isn't determined; his semi-stalkerish crush on his co-worker Will fuels many fantasies of growing old and having "boy scout" kids with him.
Drafting sappy emails and calling each one of his girlfriends for every bit of advice, Jordan is clearly lost in trying to understand what he needs to do in life.
His grandmother, Helene, has the answer, “Don't get old, Jordan. Don't die young, but don't get old.”
This limbo of youthful partying and sex versus the mature craving for stability and a future haunt the humorous tone, carefully reminding both Jordan and the audience of just how confusing this decade of life can be.
Each member of the cast is at best cliché, almost a parody of how a typical young adult comes off to older generations.
Kiki, the first friend to be married, speaks with no filter and exclusively in either Pinterest quotes of empty aspiration or confessional one-liners about how much of a mess she is.
Vanessa marries second and struts with a millennial attitude of nonchalance and edginess that makes her fantasize about her funeral after being hit by a bus — although she'd be caught dead on public transportation — while other girls were dreaming of their wedding day.
Laura, Jordan’s best friend and last to get married, is the only one with a resemblance of a put-together life and personality and becomes a voice of reason that is drowned out by Kiki's martini-induced screams and Vanessa's loathing.
A cast full of such blatant clichés and stereotypes of young adults and gay people is as inventive as another play about the tragedies of love, but Harmon's jabs — consisting of overzealous jokes and fearful foreboding of the future — are precisely timed to make the patchwork of reused tropes work in a dark way.
Right after Jordan’s grandmother has a full string of suicidal ideations, her questions of what the best method is to kill herself become quickly drowned out by Missy Elliott's “Work It,” and the scene is suddenly at a bachelorette party.
Harmon's tinkering with sentiment and low hanging jokes never clumsily mismatches. The careful juxtaposition of Jordan’s existential worries when seeing a movie about the Franco-Hungarian war and the flamboyance of his fellow gay coworker, Evan, reflect the messy and fast world that millennials live in.
The cast makes good use of the small stage at Bernie West Theatre with the quick set changes done by the actors themselves that toss new situations at the audience just as quickly as life does to Jordan.
Jeffrey Delfin, a senior at City College, takes the awkwardness of Jordan and leads the plot well through each scene.
His trio of girlfriends, each played by fellow CUNY students, bounce chemistry right off one another, supporting their characters well.
Each actress takes her stereotype and runs with every possible execution. Bonnie Q. Harris, a graduate student at Baruch, never lets the audience forget about Kiki's foolery through smoking while pregnant in the back of a tender moment center-stage between Laura and Jordan.
Bruce Jimenez steals each one of the characters' hearts, playing Jordan’s love interest Will, Kiki's clueless husband and Laura's fellow teacher-husband. Jimenez works every single one of the character's personalities with apt distinctiveness, and his slight costume changes help set the sincerity of Laura's husband apart from the simple emptiness of Will and the humor of Kiki's husband.
Daniel Gomez similarly plays three characters, but most notably Evan, the predictably flamboyant and sexually hungry gay coworker, and Roger, Vanessa’s husband, who had audience members gawking at the stage when he and Vanessa had an impromptu make out session right in the middle of the tiny stage.
Jordan’s grandmother’s mixed sweetness and scary completions of suicide are portrayed by Baruch College’s E. Daar. The moments of looking back on family photos with his grandmother reminds Jordan of how fast the past went by and rushes his fears of dying alone while he dances to cheesy Celine Dion songs at weddings.
Jordan complains of the “religion of clichés” his friends suddenly subscribed to when planning their weddings, but Significant Other itself worships these clichés and uses them to poke fun at the melodrama of growing up after becoming a grownup.
Editor's Note: Bruce Jimenez is a distributor for The Ticker.