In Joshua Harmon's brilliant, funny, touching SIGNIFICANT OTHER, we spend a year with 29 year old Jordan Berman. Jordan is a gay man whose circle of friends since his freshman year at college has been three straight women. The only other person in his life seems to be his grandmother. Jordan and his three girlfriends have partied together for a decade but, as the old song goes, "Wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine." Over the course of the year all three of the women in Jordan's life get married throwing him into panic and depression. "I'm twenty-nine years old," Jordan tells one of his friends, "And no one has over told me they love me." We also see why Jordan doesn't have a significant other. He is better with fantasy than reality. We see Jordan obsess over a handsome new colleague at work in a way that verges on creepy. His only other date is with a man who hasn't fully gotten over his ex. This is New York City, a gay Mecca, but Jordan doesn't seem to know how to make a new gay life for himself. So his year is comprised of his friends' showers, bachelorette parties, weddings and wedding receptions and he gets more and more depressed. What does one do at a wedding reception when the big dance comes along and one stands alone, when one;s friends have grown up and found mates and one hasn't yet? Can he deal with being the significant other, the single gay friend, in the lives of his now married girlfriends?
Joshua is sweet, charming, deeply neurotic, and self-absorbed. He could be exasperating, but fortunately he's played by Gideon Glick, an actor who has specialized in playing needy young gay men. This role is a tour de force. Gideon is never offstage, always the focus even when other people are talking. He has some very long rants to his friends. Glick gives a virtuoso performance that deserves the cheers he receives at the end. He's another dynamic, physical actor whose contortions can be very funny, but who also knows the dramatic power of stillness. He alone is worth the price of admission, but the play wouldn't work if the women in his life weren't played by equally strong performers. Harmon has carefully differentiated his three sidekicks, and Sas Goldberg, Carra Paterson and, particularly Lindsay Mendez make them fully three-dimensional. The climactic scene of the play is a bitter feud between Jordan and Mendez'z Laura outside her bridal shower. Jordan spews out all his bitterness and self-pity and Mendez's Laura responds with anger but, ultimately, with friendly love, the only kind Jordan might ever get. It's a beautifully written scene, powerfully acted. Understudy Alice Cannon was totally believable as Jordan's grandmother, living with the photographs of her family in the past. Two excellent male actors, John Behlmann and Luke Smith each play three male characters so convincingly that one forgets that the same actor is playing them. As always, Trip Cullman has directed masterfully on Mark Wendland's clever, effective unit set.
Joshua Harmon's last play, BAD JEWS, has been a big hit in New York and around the country. SIGNIFICANT OTHER (which could be subtitled "Sad Jew"), deserves the same success.
SIGNIFICANT OTHER. Roundabout Theatre Laura Pels Theatre. June 6, 2015.