Jordan, a gay man in his late twenties, is close with his friends, Laura, Kiki (Sas Goldberg) and Vanessa (Carra Patterson). At rise, the four are celebrating at Kiki's bachelorette party. One by one, we watch as Jordan's friends—his significant others—couple up. (John Behlmann and Luke Smith also appear as multiple characters, some significant some not.) Throughout, he fulfills his grandson duties by visiting his grandmother (usually played by Barbara Barrie; played by Alice Cannon when I saw the play), who's lived long enough to offer sage advice. Late in the show, when he's trying to reach his friends in the hopes they will talk him out of committing a relationship no-no, Jordan calls grandma because Laura, Kiki and Vanessa are busy with their most significant other and are not answering their phones. The anguish Jordan feels at resorting to calling his grandmother is palpable.
It's also fuel for the knock-down, drag-out war he has with Laura during her bachelorette party. Until that point, the play is laugh-out-loud funny without feeling contrived, a skill Harmon displayed in his breakout work, Bad Jews. But Laura's bachelorette party is a natural turning point. Laura is the friend with whom Jordan is closest, and she's the last of the women in the group to get hitched, meaning, as Jordan claims, her wedding is Jordan's funeral.
Their fight (so wonderfully written, directed (by Trip Cullman) and acted) hurts. It's raw and honest. It hurts not just because we've been endeared to Jordan and Laura but because it's true to life. Jordan says the things so many of us singles feel but never say. He talks about the loneliness of actually feeling your singledom. Because Laura is getting married, Jordan is forced to confront these feelings, to acknowledge that his life is about to change drastically, that he's losing his best friend and will now be someone whom his friends "fit in" every few months. He's losing his significant other.
This is a difficult fight to watch. It's a difficult fight to have. It is a necessary discussion. Laura fires back, of course, and her response (no spoilers) stings. But it also stays with Jordan. He starts to think about the significance of what we say to others and by the play's end (not happy or sad but honest) begins to come to terms with his new role as a significant "other."
(I feel like I'm not selling this well, so let me be more direct: Significant Other is a must see. Joshua Harmon has written a play that is modern in its specifics but classic in its themes, and is, for better or worse, thoroughly relatable. Kaye Voyce's costumes help develop the characters, and Mark Wendland's set offers a multitude of playing spaces. Trip Cullman (I'm Gonna Pray for You So Hard) directs with sensitivity and excellent timing, and the cast, with standouts Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening) and Lindsay Mendez (Godspell, Dogfight), couldn't be better.)
Visit Roundabout's website to learn more and to purchase tickets.
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