REVIEW OF THIS IS OUR YOUTH
By Kenneth Lonergan
Directed by Pat Nims
Produced by Gary Gonser
For tickets / schedule :
Belrose Theatre, San Rafael
RUN: January 15 – 30, 2016
RATING: 5 of 5 stars
(January 15, 2016)
This Is Our Youth premiered on Broadway at the Cort Theatre in 2014, and was first performed in 1996. Written by Kenneth Lonergan, it brings elements of his time growing up in New York City; he was twenty years old in 1982 when this play is set. Every stage of living has challenges, and this play snapshots the early twenties. The trio represents three types of youthful struggles: a driven student trying to cling to her failing relationship with a parent, feeling lost and in pain with no-one to turn to who understands, and an exterior bluster hiding terror at the unknown future ahead.
Each character is wrapped up in his or her own world, unable to be a true friend as a result. They take out their pain and fear on each other, unable to find an outlet for what they are going through. While presented as a comedy, the subject matter is gritty and relevant to the youth of today. In between the laughs is a sobering picture of the darkness that permeates early twenties and the difficult undertaking to find independence and meaning.
Marin Onstage has brought together a superb cast of young actors. Fernando Siu (Dennis Ziegler) dominates the stage, swaggering through interactions with other characters while portraying an inner trepidation that consumes him in the final act. Andrew Pryor-Ramirez (Warren Straub) has an excellent grasp of physical comedy and timing, while managing to captivate the audience into pity during emotion-charged scenes, such as when he talks about his sister. Bessie Zolno (Jessica Goldman) perfectly portrays a jittery, stressed out character who is not sure what she wants, constantly questioning every move when not arguing furiously to claw her way into self esteem.
Set Designers Pat Nims and Gary Gonser outdid themselves with an accurate scene, complete with empty pizza boxes lying on the floor, a messy futon and 1980s appliances that some of us still remember owning.
This Is Our Youth is a compelling production with an accomplished cast highlighting the difficult path of a modern young person. Please note that it is not suitable for children, due to drug use, mature language, and sexual themes.