The thirty-somethings in Ken Urban’s A FUTURE PERFECT (playing @ BCA through Feb. 7th) worship their pluperfect past while they grapple with an uncertain present, not to mention a daunting future. Should they have children? Abandon their dreams? Feel guilty about making money?
Urban’s characters almost discuss post-feminist backlash, child labor in China, and racism in America—but they always stop short. They skirt issues at the heart of their life plans and avoid any meaningful self-examination because, I presume, that’s what people do in “real” life and Urban is writing about those people.
Pregnancy looms large in the lives of these two couples but they only worry that a baby will keep them too busy to socialize…or play in a band. No one mentions the perils their children will face in this increasingly dangerous world. No one considers overpopulation and decreasing resources as reasons to think twice. Instead of being amused with their shortsightedness, I was frustrated.
Urban has several scenes where two band mates, who cut their teeth on ‘90s indie rock, get together to jam. (It’s a peculiar demographic to target in a play as most audiences are generally much older and will compare the sound track to classic rock ‘n roll and, in my case, will find it wanting). So it’s not my favorite genre. You’d think at least I could enjoy the act of making music but I found it so restrained, I couldn’t believe they were real musicians. Guitarists move their shoulders or their heads or their torsos. They tap their feet. They get into the rhythm. Not so in the SpeakEasy production.
Director M. Bevin O’Gara has a game cast. Brian Hastert lets us know, with his constant waffling and sidestepping body language, what it’s like to be married to a Hell on wheels advertising executive. Marianna Bassham’s character has no filter. She says what she’s thinking and she doesn’t care about betraying a trust.
Nael Nacer and Chelsea Diehl are the more sympathetic couple. At one point Nacer’s character makes up with Bassham and I couldn’t believe he would forgive her so readily. I don’t know why he did. It felt like we were missing a scene.
Hastert plays a writer on a kids TV show so we get to meet one of the child actors and an adorable puppet. Uatchet Jin Juch has the plum role in the play. She interacts sweetly with the puppet for a video they’re shooting. Then she interacts with the humans as a bored, self assured preteen and she pulls both off smartly.
Most perplexing of all is a “breakthrough” song Hastert’s character writes at the very end of the play about “simple comforts.” The catchy hook is repeated several times: “Bread in a Basket. Cake and a casket.” I’m OK with the bread and the cake but the casket part isn’t very comforting at my age. I must have misheard. I’m sure we’ll laugh about this when someone tells me the real lyric.