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Regional Reviews by Nancy Grossman

A Future Perfect
SpeakEasy Stage Company

Also see Nancy's reviews of Muckrackers and The Best Brothers


Marianna Bassham, Brian Hastert, Chelsea Diehl, and Nael Nacer
The future perfect is a verb form or construction used to describe an event that is expected or planned to happen before a time of reference in the future, such as "I will have made a million dollars by the time I turn thirty." Quite often, its use makes a statement sound hopeful or promising and, with regard to the characters in Ken Urban's play A Future Perfect, their world view is naively expectant that things will fall into place and turn out for the best, although they are wandering in the wilderness of adulthood without a compass.

Having helped to develop the play during the Huntington Theatre Company's 2013 Summer Playwriting Workshop, M. Bevin O'Gara directs the world premiere at SpeakEasy Stage Company with a keen understanding of Urban's intentions and sensibilities. As a contemporary of the thirty-something married couples in the play, O'Gara can relate to their growing pains and the difficult choices they face on the journey to the next phase of their lives. Max (Brian Hastert) and Claire (Marianna Bassham) are forced to re-examine their own values when their friends Alex (Nael Nacer) and Elena (Chelsea Diehl) announce that they are expecting a baby, and all four confront the impact of the news on their relationships.

A Future Perfect is marked by strong writing and three-dimensional, flawed characters, authentically portrayed by the four actors. Max writes puppet shows for PBS and is laid back, in contrast to Claire's corporate go-getter whose tunnel vision about her career grates on the insecure mother-to-be. Alex sells insurance and seems to hypnotically follow the prescribed path, but harbors a darker side of doubts and misdeeds. They all struggle to be in control of their lives, yet share an inability to face their fears and their truths.

Many familiar themes crop up in their lives—financial worries, failing to live up to one's own expectations, balancing one's own needs within the dynamic of being a couple—and Urban's characters have universal questions—am I becoming my mother? have we sold out?—but everything gets a fresh perspective when tossed into the playwright's blender, greatly abetted by the infusion of popular music that serves as the glue that holds the friends together. In addition to the emotional component provided by Nathan Leigh's sound design, the entire design aesthetic (Cristina Todesco, scenic design; Elisabetta Polito, costumes; Jen Rock, lighting) brings us into Max and Claire's restored brownstone condo in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in the autumn of 2011, when the shine has worn off the Obama administration, replaced by the grit of the Occupy movement.

A Future Perfect is a coming of age story for the new millennium. For those of us who came of age in the last century, it is interesting to see that the struggles haven't changed all that much, but some of the choices are different. Urban was motivated to tell this story based on circumstances from his own life and he has captured the zeitgeist. Observing from a safe distance, for me it evokes a song title from Gigi: "I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore."

A Future Perfect, performances through February 7, 2015, at SpeakEasy Stage Company, at the Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA; Box Office 617-933-8600 or www.SpeakEasyStage.com.

Written by Ken Urban, Directed by M. Bevin O'Gara; Scenic Design, Cristina Todesco; Costume Design, Elisabetta Polito; Lighting Design, Jen Rock; Sound Design, Nathan Leigh; Production Stage Manager, Adele Nadine Traub (at this performance, Amy Louise Spalletta)

Cast (in alphabetical order): Marianna Bassham, Chelsea Diehl, Brian Hastert, Uatchet Jin Juch, Nael Nacer


Photo: Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo



- Nancy Grossman



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