At the Red Gate Revue Stage (Granville Island) until July 23, 2017
Tickets from $20 at brownpapertickets.com
Posted July 18, 2017
So much talent expended on such a nasty script – surprisingly described by StageAgent as “brilliant, darkly humorous and bittersweet”. One can only hope the ‘youth’ that playwright Kenneth Lonergan writes about, is the youth in New York where he grew up and not Canadian young adults.
Born to a psychiatrist mother and a physician father, Lonergan attended a progressive private school in Manhattan and later graduated from the NYU Playwriting Program. The three characters in This Is Our Youth are privileged Upper West Side kids probably much like the rich kids Lonergan grew up with.
In the play, Dennis (Zack Currie) has been dealing drugs for five years to support his habit that includes weed, blow, heroine and speedballs (cocaine and heroine). He hates his parents but most particularly his mother; he calls his girlfriend a “cunt” until he wants to get laid. His parents pay for his messy, beer can-strewed apartment, “until I figure things out”, he says. Looks like it’s going to be a long, long wait.
Warren (Quinn Hinch) is a confused, bespectacled young guy. He’s sensitive but does stupid things like smoking way too much dope and stealing $15,000 from his father’s briefcase. And he chooses to hang out in bad company – specifically Dennis, whom he admires and calls his “hero”. Why Warren admires him is a mystery because Dennis is a major loser and abuses him relentlessly. After stealing the money from his dad, Warren turns up at Dennis’s apartment and you can imagine what a lot of that stolen cash is going to get spent on.
Enter beautiful, foxy Jessica (beautiful, foxy Mackenzie Cardwell) on whom Warren has a crush. Jessica is a fashion student, smart and argumentative; initially she seems to be attracted to Dennis but once he exits the scene, she and Warren get it on.
These kids are in trouble. Rudderless. Without guidance. Lost.
This Is Our Youth was hard for me to watch. Dennis is the kind of guy you don’t really want to be in the same room with. He’s gross, coarse and has illusions of grandeur. “I could be a director”, he says. He thinks he’d be “great” at directing despite the fact that he has no theatre experience whatsoever. Then he thinks he’d be a terrific actor. “I’d be great at it,” he says. But he just keeps smoking up, staying high.
Warren is a little easier to take but Jessica is an enigma. She’s obviously intelligent but her ‘whatever’ attitude to sex is hard to accept.
But, under the direction of Beau Han Bridge, the performances are terrific. That I found Dennis so repugnant speaks highly of Zack Currie. Hyped and vulgar – every other word Dennis says seems to be a variant of the f-word – Currie seems high and wired from beginning to end. He just nails the kind of guy you pray your daughter never, ever brings home.
Quinn Hinch’s Warren is nervous, sensitive and if any of the characters garners sympathy, it’s Warren. By the end of the play, Hinch goes very quiet and you can see Warren’s wheels turning: time to ship out and shape up.
As Jessica, Mackenzie Cardwell is bright, teasing and shows just a little bit of insecurity although why this character is insecure, is a mystery since Jessica has so much going for her: brains, beauty, ambition and a mother who cares.
The inaugural production of Midtwenties Theatre Society, This Is Our Youth might be “brilliant, darkly humorous and bittersweet” but, for me, it was deeply disturbing. StageAgent goes on to say, “The painful, funny, and all-too-familiar coming-of-age moments that Lonergan captures — the point at which one’s youthful ideals are lost, the recognition of the disappointments and failures of one’s parents, the choice to hide from the adult world, rather than face it — make the play strikingly resonant for audience members all ages.” I really didn’t get that but it might be completely different for the company’s target audience – young adults. They might even find it funny. However, if this really is our youth, we’re in deep trouble.