Significant Other: When the Bachelorette Was Off-Broadway
By Ross, June 2015
Back in the summer of 2015, I had the chance to see Significant Other when it was off Broadway at the Roundabout Theatre. Sadly, I did not have the opportunity to see the Broadway transfer this past week before last night’s opening night.
So here is what I had to say about it in 2015, and take it with a grain of salt, as who knows, I have heard it has improved and deepened with age. Matured, one could say:
Roundabout is giving us a gay-centric play, Significant Other, about a young gay man, Jason, his inability to find love, and his reactions to his three girlfriends as they, one by one, throw their bachelorette parties and celebrate their weddings with their friends. These three female friends couldn’t be more different, and well, the same could be said of the men in their lives as well, if we ever really had a chance to get to know them beyond their one dimensional presentations. But they are not the point. This is Jason’s story, and it is told by a wonderfully quirky goofy performance by Gideon Glick.
At the intermission, I felt this was a cute whimsical little comical play by Joshua Harmon that maybe was taking a wee bit too long to tell. It seemed like the director, Trip Cullman, thought we really would care about these people, giving them overly long moments for us to watch them listen to music at their weddings. He thought our heart strings would be pulled and we would be moved and connect with them. But as act one became act two, and the battle intensified in Jason’s frustration and desperation, my attitude shifted. I did understand and connect with the emotional truth the playwright was exploring. I’ve felt the same pangs of living a gay man’s life in contrast to a straight woman’s life. So it’s not difficult for me to empathize. It’s hard to say what happened for me, but this quirky oddball performance started to seem demented and delusional. Why is he railing at his friends because they found love and he can’t? This seemed selfish and very unloving. Where were his circle of gay friends? Why was the only gay male ‘friend’ used as a comic fool and stereotype? Maybe the fantasy driven scenarios that are presented to us concerning his views of love started to seem like signs of a larger psychological problem, and not whimsy and bad luck. This wasn’t the cute play we were sold in the first act, but a darker story of a gay man’s inability to connect realistically beyond the superficial, yet the director continued to present us with a light quirky comedy. And it didn’t work for me, it annoyed me by the end.
Comedy about disfunction within our family or love relationships is a high wire act. The balance is what makes it work… Significant Other fails in my mind. But maybe, being a psychotherapist in my real non-blog life, I just wanted to hand Jason my card, and say “please get some help, this isn’t so funny.”