Review by Danny Gaisin
Paul Downs Colaizzo’s 2012 script about the so-called ‘Generation ME’ exposes all the warts and angst of collegiate years by highlighting relationship stereotypes… male/female; male/male; female/female, and the sisterhood/brotherhood bonds. A septet of actors cover all of these via an ingenious coherence of associations. These are exacerbated by each individual’s personalities as well as insecurities. All these ingredients make for a potent dynamic. Difficult to direct; problematical to perform; and certainly arduous and embarrassing for an audience to observe. The plethora of scatological adjectival outbursts aside, observers can’t help but identify with certain characters portrayed on stage. This scribe definitely saw a personal refection in ‘Cooper‘.
Photo by Joseph Taylor
The central theme is an annual co-ed party without limits. Sort of a mini ‘super-Rave’ with alcoholic consumption being the catalyst for boundary elimination. The unwritten ‘buddy Rules’ are forgotten; the societal restraints are temporarily withdrawn, and morality is momentarily overlooked – forgetting that tomorrow’s retributions are burdensome, even onerous. For a critic to delve into the plots and subplots would be a spoiler, and given that Theatre Erindale’s director Michael Bradley has ingeniously refrained from any plot telegraphing, we’ll just say that each character interacts both positively and negatively with every other person on stage.
The two female room-mates are Lucy Morgan & Khira Wieting. Morgan is moody and her interaction with a silent cellphone is one hell of a thespian challenge. The young lady projects a ton of feelings just by her continual & hopeful check for text or voicemail message. Wieting is a physical and sentimental opposite with her own overt as well as psychological baggage. Whether by directorial instruction or pure instinct, she projects a style, manner, and even a profile that resembles ADA Erin Reagan on TV’s ‘Blue Bloods’.
The four bros are Kyle McDonald, Eric Gordon, Soykan Karayol & Jake Settle. The latter is the Cooper mentioned above. He’s somewhat hyper, loud, an instigator and yet, with a bottom line that his psyche cannot cross. McDonald’s dimples and classic Greek profile are ‘leading man’ material, yet he manages to project an insecurity and self-doubt that is viscerally credible. Both Karayol & Gordon are pivotal characters and their full-measure contributions are especially noticeable due to the challenges their portrayals necessitate. A sleazy sibling to Morgan’s ‘Leigh’ is Rachel Lebovic and she emanates a ‘trailer trash’ sexuality that impacts right to the cheap seats.
The set designed by Peter Urbanek is creative enough as to represent both the group’s digs without the need for prop changes. His clever lighting system also enhances the ambience and styles of each group. Bradley’s little directorial bits such as the open refrigerator and detritus meliorates the effect and environ.
The title is defined as ‘matter of fact’ or as an intensifier of opinion. REALLY REALLY is a ‘really important’ play for both contemporaries as well as us ‘old farts’ who can still remember our collegiate days. Caveat, the language and subject matter are definitely for adult mindsets.
REALLY REALLY is at UTM’s Mist Theatre until March 11th. For tickets/ directions 905-469-4369