Significant Other: Comedy by Joshua Harmon. Directed by Lauren English. SF Playhouse, 450 Post Street, San Francisco, 2nd floor of the Kensington Park Hotel. 415-677-9596, or online at https://www.sfplayhouse.org/sfph/2018-2019-season/significant-other/.
April 30 through June 15, 2019
Significant Other is a case study of neuroses/depression. Rating:
Significant Other that is playing at the San Francisco Playhouse is being advertised as “Ferociously hilarious.” Although there were moments of enthusiastic guffaws, laughs were few on opening night although Kyle Cameron in the major role of Jordan Berman gave a superb performance. Yes there is a plethora of humor but that humor is direct at rather than with his character. The play would be an excellent study for a Psych 1 class cataloging a descent into depression.
The major character of Jordan is an insecure gay man whose life is entwined with three women—his best friends. They are Laura (Ruibo Khan), Vanessa (Nicole-Azalee Danielle) and Kiki (Hayley Lovgren). One by one the women find a significant other and depart to be married in possible heavenly bliss while he is waiting, but not searching, for a partner. This allows author Berman to write three bachelorette and three wedding scenes that add pizzazz to the evening in song and dance.
We learn early in the play that Jordan is a caring individual and is not happy with work, is obsessed with text messages and “what they actually mean” and totally hates his body image. Those cell phone messages are paramount in the storyline and often very funny. In the opening scenes of the second act Jordan’s extended text messaging is a hoot and a holler as he must make a decision to send or not send. There was decisive “No!” from the audience.
Before we arrive at that stage of the action there are some spot on vignettes played by August Browning and Greg Ayers in multiple roles including the husbands of all three girls as well as an office friend, a potential gay lover and Will (August Browning) a new addition to the office who physicality fascinates Jordan who falls in love. But it is one sided affair that is not to be.
Jordan’s kindness is implicit when he goes to visit his grandmother (the charming Joy Carlin) checking up on her meds, sharing the same photo album and stories each time. After Vanessa and Kiki are married off, Laura and Jordan create a pact that they would be “best friends” forever. Before this happens Jordan’s psychiatrist has upped the dosage of his antidepressant.
As time passes Laura falls in love with Tony (played by August Browning) and they prepare to be married and Jordan is refusing to go to the wedding. We are nearing the end of the story and Harmon has written the best scene in the play between Laura and Jordan defining the meaning of friendship with implicit advice to “Get on with your own life.” Qian and Cameron nail that scene.
Then there is another wedding and Jordan becomes a hurt wallflower. But the play should not end on a down note and in the final scene Joy Carlin and Kyle Cameron step forward with hopeful platitudes for possible happiness living one’s own life.
Running time about two hours with an intermission.
CAST: Kyle Cameron as Jordan Berman; Ruibo Qian as Vanessa; Hayley Lovgren as Kiki; Joy Carlin as Helene Berman; August Browning as Will/Conrad/Tony; Greg Ayers as Gideon/Evan.
CREATIVE TEAM: Director, Lauren English; Scenic Designer, Jacquelyn Scott; Costume Designer, Randy Wong-Westbrooke; Lighting Designer, Wen-Ling Liao; Sound Designer, Teddy Hulsker; Properties Designer, Jacquelyn Scott.
Kedar K. Adour, MD
Courtesy of www.theatreworldim2.com