The first play by 27-year-old Paul Downs Colaizzo is about his fellow Millennials, whom he posits as a new Me Generation. Populated by college seniors and set on campus, this first part of a planned trilogy touches on zeitgeist-y dramas: pregnancy, infidelity, hangovers, midterms, the stresses of study, impending graduation, and finding recessionary employment. But most of all it's about the relentless pursuit of self-interest, about kids who will do anything to get ahead—anything.
Older people might feel alienated. When Really Really opens, two coeds stumble drunk into their apartment, laughing uncontrollably, bleeding, fumbling with their heels. The crowd giggled, but the old folks behind me kept asking each other, "what's funny?" On stage, one woman checks her voicemails, finds none, frowns, closes her phone, opens it, and checks again. She does it four or five times, the audience laughing more each time. "What's funny? What's funny?"
The young ladies are coming back from a party, and Really Really really opens the next day, and it slowly emerges that college and alcohol are a dangerous mix: Girls' Zosia Mamet, playing one of the few characters not from money, is desperate to keep her good-guy boyfriend (Evan Jonigkeit) and the good life he promises her, and when he finds out that she slept with Friday Night Lights' Matt Lauria at last night's rager, she tells him she was raped. Colaizzo suggests that she really was, but also that she wasn't, complicated by at least two characters' booze-fueled memory loss. But in the play the truth becomes irrelevant; what matters is how the characters react to the accusation, how they use it to further their ambitions or protect their own asses—how mendacity goes viral if it props up prosperity.
Colaizzo can be heavy-handed: a speech delivered by Mamet's roommate Lauren Culpepper to the Future Leaders of America about the unique characteristics of her generation and the country they've inherited are a dramatically clumsy way to underline his themes; and the characters shout a lot. But then again I guess many young people process their emotions so rawly? Director David Cromer does an outstanding job creating a naturalistic rapport between his actors, who until shit gets too real are a rambunctious lot—witty and lively, particularly the dudes, who bust each other's balls, punch each other's balls, and shake Gold Bond powder on their balls. "I can hear young people laughing, knowing they can relate to it," the old woman behind me said at intermission. "It has no relevance to us, but it has relevance to them." Well, I was laughing, but portraits of the Millennial Generation usually feel overwrought to me. At its core, so did this one, but it actually comes from one of us. I have two or three years on Colaizzo; is he being dramatic, or am I just already too old to get it?
Photo by Janna Giacoppo