Reunion Offers Inside Look at Male Bonding
Love the theater, but can’t always afford the high ticket prices? Here’s an insider secret for you: For only $12 per person (or $5 for students), you can go see fantastic plays as part of the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Repertory Theatre. The productions are part of a six-week program, involving Brown University alumni playwrights and other dramatists, that culminates with live performances.
This summer, they are featuring three plays; Principal Principle, which my colleague Casey Nilsson reviewed last week; Reunion, which I will review below; and Timeshare, which my colleague Jen McCaffery will review next week. So if you’re looking for an affordable night out this summer, then consider checking out one of these fantastic plays.
Reunion–a dark comedy written by Gregory S. Moss and directed by Kenneth Prestininzi—takes place inside a cheap hotel room after three high school buddies return from their twentieth high school reunion. They book the same exact room that they inhabited during a high school adventure, and twenty years later, everything in the room is the same, including the curtains, except for the guests.
The three men were best friends back in the day, but they haven’t seen each other in quite some time, and they are looking forward to a night of male bonding. There’s the lovable Peter (Petey), who can’t wait to get crazy on his one night away from the wife and kids; there’s the dark and morose Max, who seems to be harboring a deep secret; and then there’s Mitch, an intimidating bachelor, who lives at his parents’ home, owns vicious dogs, and does as he pleases with no regard for the consequences.
It’s a likely scenario: Three very different men in their late-thirties trying to escape grown-up life with a night of returning to their adolescence. And we get to be a fly on the wall and take in their no holds barred antics and conversations about women, growing up and real-life issues. When the beer and whisky starts to flow and empty bottles begin to accumulate, I think we’re in for scenes straight out of the movie The Hangover. At first we’re laughing and having a great time with the trio (who are a riot at times, especially when it comes to creative uses for hotel room furniture), but with each sip of alcohol, things get less funny, and we begin to understand each character’s situation a little more. Powerful emotions come out and we witness how one person can manipulate a group and change the dynamics of an entire evening. We’ve all been there; at a party, where everything is all fun and good until one person gets out of hand and it’s a downward spiral from there. But what’s important here is the depth of the characters and their relationships with each other that come to life on stage:
Petey—played by Alston Brown—is an endearing man with a case of Peter Pan Syndrome. He keeps us laughing throughout the play with his overexcited mannerisms and expressions that make you want to run up on stage and give him a giant hug (or jump on the bed with him). He’s devoted to his wife, whom he met in high school, so much so that he can’t stop calling, checking in and texting her, which leads to Mitch saying, “Your leash is ringing.”
Max—played by Steven Jaehnert—is closed-off. He has sworn off alcohol, seldom smiles and has an intense look about him that crumbles when he finally caves in and takes a drink. That’s when his character unravels and we learn about what caused him to be this way.
Mitch is the most complex and believable character of the group. With bulging muscles and visible veins pumping hot blood, Daniel Duque-Estrada morphs into the role of manipulator. Watching him perform is unnerving; you almost feel like he’ll reach into the audience and grab you by the throat.
So what happens? What does this night entail? And what’s the twist ending? Trust us, it’s worth paying to be a fly on the wall inside this hotel room to find out.
Reunion is onstage through July 21 at Brown University’s Leeds Theatre, 77 Waterman St., Providence. It will return in repertory on Aug. 2. Following Reunion is Rachel Caris Love’s Timeshare, which will take over the stage from July 25–28 and Aug. 1. Then on Aug. 4, all three plays, including Principal Principle, will be served up in one afternoon. Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 seniors and $5 students. Call 863-2838 or visit brown.edu/btprep for more information.