Joshua Harmon’s play, “Significant Other,” which just recently opened at the Booth Theatre in New York, is a vastly entertaining, extremely well-acted, yet, at times, abrasive play. The Roundabout Theatre Company presented “Significant Other” Off-Broadway last season and, following good reviews, the show has transferred to a commercial run on Broadway. Having seen (and admired) Harmon’s previous play, “Bad Jews,” the writing and dialogue in “Significant Other” is somewhat more appealing than in “Bad Jews,” yet this playwright’s spiky wit and sometimes angry language is still very much apparent. As skillfully directed by Trip Cullman and acted by a flawless cast, “Significant Other” makes for a deeply satisfying play, with much humor and drama in equal parts.
The set-up of “Significant Other” is that the gay, twenty-something year old character, Jordan Berman (perfectly assayed by Gideon Glick), has three close female friends, who all, gradually, get married, while Jordan remains mostly dateless. One truly feels for the plight of this character and Gideon Glick is able to navigate Jordan’s journey throughout the play beautifully. Indeed, for anyone who has ever had trouble dating, it is easy to relate to Glick’s mixture of desperation and hope that he endows his character with. Though there is a little bit of the feeling during “Significant Other” of wondering which of Jordan’s girlfriends will get engaged next, the playwright has made his characters consistently intriguing and they all feel very true to life.
As mentioned, Gideon Glick plays the lead role and his performance is absolutely sterling and multi-faceted. The moments that Glick goes after various men (alternately played by the terrific John Behlmann and Luke Smith), through Facebook pages and texts, one can’t help caring very much for this character to find true love, at last. And the fact that his female friends are getting to the altar before him makes the main character all the more touching and sympathetic.
It must be said that the playwright has given great roles to the other members of the cast, as well. As the somewhat foul-mouthed and wild Kiki, Sas Goldberg is often hilarious and absolutely shines. Just as funny is Rebecca Naomi Jones, as Vanessa, though this actress brings a lot of heart to her part, as well. And, speaking of heart, there is the wonderful Lindsay Mendez as Laura, Glick’s closest and best friend. Mendez is masterful at navigating a wide range of emotions and one can easily see her caught between her friendship and love for Glick and the desire to settle down and get married.
Playing a wide range of men in these characters’ lives, John Behlmann and Luke Smith are skillfully able to turn on a dime as they take on different parts. Still, if I was to name a favorite in the cast, it would have to be the peerless and lovely Barbara Barrie, as Glick’s grandmother, Helene. Barrie brings a great deal of warmth to her part and she is enormously supportive of her grandson. And, as is the case with all of the characters, the dialogue that Joshua Harmon gives his actors is, by turns, tender and incisive.
“Significant Other” is performed on a fine, multi-leveled set, designed by Mark Wendland and the entirely appropriate costumes are by Kaye Voyce. Director Trip Cullman keeps the pacing of the play expertly modulated throughout and he is entirely in tune with the playwright’s vision of trying to find love in one’s life. Not to give too much away, Joshua Harmon is not afraid to give his leading character, Jordan Berman, a great deal of anger, in addition to his jokes and humor, and this play, at times, can feel both pointed and bittersweet. Still, “Significant Other” is nothing if not truthful throughout, with the ability to embrace the good and the bad in close relationships. “Significant Other” at the Booth Theatre is a fine addition to the Broadway season and is most definitely worth seeing and enjoying.
“Significant Other” continues performances at the Booth Theatre on Broadway. For tickets, please visit www.SignificantOtherBroadway.com or call Telecharge at 212-239-6200.
Photo: (L-R): Lindsay Mendez and Gideon Glick
Photo by Joan Marcus