Joshua Harmon’s SIGNIFICANT OTHER is an actor’s dream. The quirky play (@ SpeakEasy Stage through Oct. 8th) has it all: an unusual number of dicey monologues which can make or break an actor; optimum face time; and the play comes with a rep: Harmon takes it to Broadway after the SpeakEasy run, sadly with another cast.
Greg Maraio should be going. His tour de force, as the gay everyman who just wants to get married and have kids, is the main reason to see the production. His misadventures fill the play with hilarious disasters, like the overwrought e-mail he should never, never have sent (which turns out to be one of the best physical bits in the show). His “wallowing and spiraling” is the stuff of classic comedy. Maraio turns out to be a master of the soliloquy (one of which is wordless!) as well, but as funny as he is, he makes us care for this hapless romantic.
Harmon gives him three best friends, all female, all of whom (unintentionally, of course) will neglect him when they find someone and get married. (Why Harmon doesn’t give him male friends is a mystery to me. He lives in New York City for heaven sakes. There must be a zillion gay bars and I know there are a zillion theaters, but I digress.)
Back to the play: Maraio gets to be plenty serious as well, pouring out his heart—and his resentment—to one of the deserters at her bachelorette party. Jordan Clark gives as good as she gets in a nifty, angry monologue/response.
Director Paul Daigneault gets strong comic performances from the rest of the cast, too, from Sarah Elizabeth Bedard and Kris Sidberry (as his BFFs), from Kathy St. George as his wise Jewish grandma, and especially from Eddie Shields, superb in three different roles, with charisma to spare. When you triple roles, each has to be distinct. (Alas, the other triple performer seemed the same each time). Shields is a bona fide chameleon but anyone who saw SpeakEasy’s Casa Valentina last season knows that. He’s an asset to any production.