Signature Theatre is very well known for promoting the work of new writers, as we saw when the theatre opened this year’s season with two new musicals: Matt Conner’s The Hollow and Adam Gwon’s The Boy Detective Fails.
With its latest offering Really Really, Signature Theatre might have just found the next great playwright in Paul Downs Colaizzo, a 26 year-old dynamo who has come up with a script that will entertain and definitely make you think.
Really Really takes a look at the human condition and how people are always looking out for themselves, which includes being non-committal, so they end up looking good all the time, and will do pretty much anything to get what they want in life.
Almost all of Colaizzo’s characters are ‘well to do’ college students. The deep and colorful characters include Leigh (Bethany Anne Lind) – a young girl who has just suffered a miscarriage and has accused Davis (Jake Odmark) of rape at a college party after a night of drinking. Grace – Leigh’s roommate (Lauren Culpepper) runs Future Business Leaders of America conferences. Jimmy (Danny Gavigan) -Leigh’s boyfriend – seems to be totally committed to her. Johnson (Paul James) is a kid who is just about to get his first job after graduating and will do what he needs to not have it implode when the sex scandal breaks. Cooper (Evan Casey) a college slacker whose apartment played host to the party. And then there is Haley (Kim Rosen) – Leigh’s sister – who gets everything she wants.
Colaizzo has written a very tight script. His humor – which really captures college life – is dead-on. Where the play really takes off is in the dramatic scenes, especially when Leigh confronts Davis – the man she has accused of raping her. Colaizzo’s writing keeps you engaged the entire time.
The cast is directed by Signature’s wunderkind Associate Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner. Gardiner totally understands the material and directs the show with tension and sensitivity. The cast has so much good writing and characters to work with and Gardiner’s directorial choices enhance everything happening on stage.
This is a true ensemble piece and is some of the best ensemble acting you will see anywhere. The tension between Bethany Anne Lind and Jake Odmark will keep you guessing how it all turns out – and how it turns out might not be what you expect.
Evan Casey once again delivers a fine performance and this performance of Cooper displays what a wonderful dramatic actor and comedian Casey is. The other four actors – Lauren Culpepper, Kim Rosen, Danny Gavigan and Paul James all give extremely well-acted performances that add to this already great night of theatre. They also give outstanding performance helping to create this somewhat messed-up world by playwright Colaizzo.
Scenic Designer Misha Kachman’s depiction of two college dorms and his use of rain – really sets the mood well. Kathleen Geldard’s costumes and Colin K. Bills lighting, and even the subtle reverb in Matt Rowe’s sound design for Grace’s speeches at her conference – add to the enjoyment of this beautifully designed production.
As someone who works in this business and has been attending theatre for over 37 years, I can honestly say if you want to witness the birth of the next great thing in the theatre you must get to Signature Theatre and see Really Really. It does not matter who you root for in the show, I just want you to witness an amazing group of young performers and be introduced to playwright and future Tony Award winner Paul Downs Colaizzo.
Running Time: One hour and 55 minutes, including one intermission.
This play contains nudity, strong language and explicit situations. For mature audiences only.