Underground Railway Theater’s WHEN JANUARY FEELS LIKE SUMMER (Running through Nov. 13th) starts out like gangbusters. I couldn’t help but think of the two teenagers in the movie CRASH, so sure of themselves, so delighted with the possibilities the world offers them that questionable behavior just seems like a lark to them. (It’s not their fault: Teenaged brains aren’t fully developed so they can’t see very far ahead of their actions.)
Seth Hill and Marc Pierre are the best things in JANUARY. Were it not for their antics, Cori Thomas’ play would have nowhere to engage the “global” problem, which is what Hill’s hilarious character calls global warming. The two are typical teenage boys, chasing skirts and sharing dubious information about what females like—and what type of female is worth liking. Both Hill and Pierre are gifted physical comedians, with Hill contorting his face as he tries so diligently “to comprehend the magnitude of the situation.” They’re always slightly misinformed, but so sincere, that they’re utterly charming. Director Benny Sato Ambush mines oodles of humor from their scenes. In fact, once they exit, we can’t wait for them to return.
JANUARY is billed as a romantic comedy but the weight of the subject matter, in my opinion, keeps it too tightly grounded for out and out comedy. Two operations figure in the story. One has left a husband on life support and the other hasn’t happened as yet. The anticipation of the latter procedure fuels one of the two romances. The other is sweeter and simpler: A customer of an Indian grocery has fallen for the proprietress (a gentle soul who can’t face turning off the aforementioned life support). David J. Curtis and Sanaa Kazi perfectly capture the elation/embarrassment quotient in a budding relationship where each shares their hopes and pasts.
The problem I have is with the seriousness of the second romance. Mesma Belsare’s character implores Ganesha, the highest Hindu deity (who famously removes obstacles) for help with a rather significant deception. Belsare’s Indira is twenty-seven and savvy in the ways of the world. As savvy as Hill’s teenager is, he’s still a teenager and mighty gullible, falling hook, line and sinker for the deceit. The play ends with the two couples headed for their various bedrooms but I kept thinking of THE CRYING GAME.