A new play from Obie-winning author Melissa James Gibson, This shines a light on the contemporary late-thirtysomething condition through the lens of five friends in New York City. At the center of the group is Jane, a lost woman who is still detached and reeling from the loss of her husband a year ago (and played with brilliant stiffness by Law & Order: Criminal Intent‘s Julianne Nicholson). Her four friends valiantly try to help her, all the while revealing their problems and proclivities. At its most basic, This is a peek into a messy group of friends who, even they would admit unabashedly, still have a lot to figure out.
This is a beautifully written, intelligent, and funny two-hour descent into the disarray of life. In some ways, Gibson unearths the plight of thirtysomethings in NYC much as the musical Avenue Q did for the city’s twentysomethings — with the same bawdy humor. The subject matter — from the search for love to raising children — should hit home for any feeling person who isn’t sleepwalking through life. But the way the friends act and relate — often with overly witty word choices and debates, reminiscent of the way Rory and Lorelai talked in Gilmore Girls — tends to feel inauthentic and fictional. And the characters occasionally meander into weird tangents (such as a debate about whether the branded water filter Brita is pronounced ”Brit-uh” or ”Bree-tuh”). Regardless, This is well acted, smartly staged, and truly funny at times, which makes you forgive its slight veer toward the unreal. Grade: B+
(Tickets: Ticketcentral.com or 212.279.4200)