Zosia Mamet Opens in ‘Really Really’ Off Broadway: REVIEW
BY NAVEEN KUMAR
Kids these days — 'Generation Me' according to playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo — are a viciously self-obsessed lot. Inheriting a world that’s less than ripe with the opportunity they’ve been promised has made them sociopathic—and they’ll do anything in the interest of self-preservation. Or so the story goes in the young writer’s New York debut, Really Really, which opened Off Broadway Tuesday in an MCC production at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.
Zosia Mamet of HBO’s Girls leads the cast of college seniors as Leigh—a tough girl from little means. In its eerie opening scene, she and her roommate Grace (Lauren Culpepper) burst into their dark apartment blackout-drunk, returning home from a party. Grace can’t stop laughing, holding up her blood-covered hand. Leigh can hardly stand.
The morning light reveals a more benign college scene. Though Leigh has a devoted boyfriend, Jimmy (Evan Jonigkeit), she spent some time behind closed bedroom doors at the party with its host and her long-time crush, Davis (Matt Lauria). Grace, who cut up her hand in a drunken stumble on the way home, is all bandaged, packed up, and ready to head out to a Future Leaders of America Conference. But first she wants to hear all the dirty details, which Leigh is curiously unwilling to dish.
Cut to the boys’ party-ravaged apartment, where their brainy friend Johnson (Kobi Libii) is playing video games, and Cooper (David Hull), Davis’ roommate, saunters around shirtless calling Johnson a pussy for leaving the party early. When Davis wakes up and stumbles out, the boys badger him about last night’s conquest. Only thing is—he doesn’t remember it.
The rest of the story revolves around the ensuing uncertain battle of he said/ she said. Did he really force himself on her? He seems like an upstanding guy. Didn’t she have a crush on him? Could she be lying to save her relationship? Because she's actually a pretty good liar.
The arrival of her more openly scrappy older sister Haley (an amusing Aleque Reid), makes a refreshing addition to the second act and provides further context for Leigh's moral character.
Serviceably directed by David Cromer (Our Town, Tribes), Colaizzo’s play vacillates between the sort of slick dialogue and surface drama typical of nighttime teenage soaps, and moments when it seems he's after something more complex. The story only retains its dark edge from the unwavering selfishness of its characters, not because its treatment of hot-button subject matter is particularly original.
Grace’s speech at the Future Leaders of America Conference, directed to the audience at the start of act two, details the 'Generation Me' ethos that saturates Colaizzo’s drama. Aside from casting the shadow of a heavy hand, her monologue and the playwright’s pegging of the 'iGeneration' feels conveniently reductive. it also makes finding a foothold for empathy in this play that much more difficult.
By the time a series of twists and turns bring the play to its engineered, disturbing conclusion, one appropriate response Really Really seems ready and waiting for is: ‘Wait.. No, seriously??’
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Follow Naveen Kumar on Twitter: @Mr_NaveenKumar (photos: janna giacoppo)