It’s a hideous rite of passage that lasts anywhere from three to seven years, typically between the ages of 26-33, during which your friends all suddenly decide to get married. You buy bridesmaid dresses, you travel to states you hadn’t visited since your summer teen tour, you click through online registries and wonder if you’ll ever, ever opt to personally own a set of napkin rings. Sure, you’re happy for your friends and their whole “lifelong love” thing, but if you’re the single one, it’s a big ol’ serving of hell. Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other—playing at Roundabout Theatre Company’s Off Broadway Laura Pels space through Aug. 16—is about that time.
Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) plays Jordan Berman, a Jewish, gay, neurotic guy in his late 20s living in NYC, who’s got a crush on the hot guy at work (John Behlmann) and is watching his trio of female besties (Sas Goldberg, Lindsay Mendez, and Carra Patterson) fall in love and fall out of his life, one by one. Jordan’s pretty sure the secret to life is “find someone to go through it with.” And with each impending wedding, he becomes more and more unnerved about his prospects of finding that person. “Can I have the sticker on the apple? I need something that will, like, touch me and cling to me right now,” Jordan tells a friend at one point. Glick, who straddles the line between a charmingly anxious and an annoying basket case, skillfully delivers some gloriously written monologues about whether or not to hit ‘send’ on a misguided email to his crush, and the character has an especially blistering takedown of why friends hate going to other friends’ weddings. “Your wedding is my funeral,” our leading man finally tells his closest of the three friends. “Can you understand that?”
Like in Bad Jews, Harmon’s strong breakthrough play, the dialogue here is sharp, unapologetic and witty. (Even Harmon’s directions in the script are clever; he writes, “The scenes of this play should bleed into each other. Because love bleeds. Ugh.”) He veers into Sapville, however, with Jordan’s grandmother Helene (Breaking Away’s Barbara Barrie), who gives one of those wise-old-woman speeches toward the end of the play about romantic struggles just being a chapter in a long book. As Harmon would say: Ugh! For a chilling moment, I thought we were headed for a Hollywood rom-com ending, with a cute guy tapping Jordan on the shoulder just as he’s feeling like he’ll never find love. But this is no rom-com, and it’s all the more Significant for that. B