By Caroline V. McGraw; Directed by Portia Krieger
Produced by Lesser America
Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 11.29.15
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place
by Sarah Moore on 11.10.15
Babak Tafti, Blake DeLong, and Quincy Dunn-Baker in The Bachelors. Photo by Stacey Abeles.
BOTTOM LINE: Caroline V. McGraw’s excellent new play tells the story of three post-college men, their struggles to find themselves, and how the women in their lives shape their circumstances.
At first glance, the setting is the home of some college guys. Liquor is abundant, there’s a Playboy on display, and a Bruins pennant on the wall. One of the inhabitants lies down face first, shirtless, on the floor. This is Kevlar (Blake DeLong), and it turns out he's past his college years. Next, arriving home from a business trip, is Laurie (Babak Tafti). It becomes Laurie’s job to help Kev sober up. Kev is also really really upset about something, but Laurie isn’t sure if he should believe Kev's drunken ramblings. Finally there is Henry (Quincy Dunn-Baker), roommate number three, who comes back from a nearby frat party. Henry doesn’t want anything to do with the nonsense going on in the apartment; he just wants his friends to join him at the party. The scene is real, frighteningly real at points, for anyone who is in their somewhat-recent post-college years, or who can remember that time when weekends are for getting wasted and forgetting about the job that you hate. These men are too old to be acting like this, but this is their reality.
On the surface, The Bachelors is a play about young guys trying to figure out who they are and their place in the world, but as it goes on, it’s about much more. Rather than just being a play about post-college bros acting like post-college bros, The Bachelors is ultimately about their relationships with women. Playwright Caroline V. McGraw has managed to not only paint a realistic picture of a Friday night for these people, but also provide a meditation on the bigger themes in the background: mortality, meaningful relationships, and consent, to name a few.
All three actors are excellent, giving deep and layered performances that allow us to get to know the characters as people. Kev is drunk or drugged throughout the entire 80 minutes of the play, but DeLong manages to make him sympathetic, even charming. Babak Tafti as Laurie is also excellent, especially as the details of his business trip are revealed late in the evening. Quincy Dunn-Baker brings the right amount of darkness to his portrayal of Henry, a biologist by day, womanizer by night. Despite the differences in their personalities, the men clearly share a bond, and it is not hard to believe how they became friends.
Not only is the writing great, but it is backed up by a fantastic creative and production team (and may I add, a heavily female team at that). The realistic scenic design is by Carolyn Mraz, with lighting by Masha Tsimring, costumes by Sydney Maresca, sound by Elisheba Ittoop and props by Jessica Jalal. The realistic pacing and smooth direction is by Portia Krieger (associate director of Fun Home on Broadway).
The Bachelors shares themes with Jesse Eisenberg’s excellent play The Spoils, which was presented by the New Group earlier this year. But what McGraw’s play has that The Spoils doesn’t is a deeper female perspective. Even though we don’t actually see any women in the play, each of the male character’s plots are centered on their relationships with women. The voices of McGraw, as well as director Portia Krieger, are essential in understanding the men and clarifying the plot, and they are to be applauded for recognizing and presenting this depiction of male characters. The Bachelors is an incredibly honest new play that I hope will introduce people to this excellent new playwright.
(The Bachelors plays at the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 224 Waverly Place, through November 29 , 2015. The show runs 80 minutes, no intermission. Performances are Thursdays through Sundays at 8. There is no performance November 26. Tickets are $18 and are available at www.lesseramerica.com.)
The Bachelors is written by Caroline V. McGraw and directed by Portia Krieger. Produced by Lesser America. Set Design is by Carolyn Mraz. Lighting Design is by Masha Tsimring. Sound Design is by Elisheba Ittoop. Costume Design is by Sydney Maresca. Props Design is by Jessica Jalal. Movement Choreography is by Robert Westley. Production Stage Manager is Laura Kim. Technical Director is Sean Gorski. General Manager is Amanda Nelson.
The cast is Blake DeLong, Quincy Dunn-Baker, and Babak Tafti.