In today’s Wall Street Journal I review the Broadway transfer of Joshua Harmon’s Significant Other. Here’s an excerpt.
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Time was when all gay plays were Problem Plays. They couldn’t very well have been anything else, since homosexuality was both illegal and socially stigmatized, a double-barreled problem that was bound to come to the fore in any play featuring an openly gay protagonist. But times and attitudes have changed throughout much of America, and those changes are clearly reflected in Joshua Harmon’s “Significant Other,” a sort-of-romantic sort-of comedy about a lonely gay guy whose underlying premise is that gay guys have problems just like everybody else.
Jordan (Gideon Glick) is a nebbishy millennial whose problem, in his words, is that “I’m almost 29 years old and no one has ever told me they love me.” His twentysomething women friends (if he has men friends, we don’t meet them) are sympathetic, but they’re also starting to get married, even Laura (Lindsay Mendez), his wisecracking, similarly lonely best friend, who astonishes both Jordan and herself by finding a man to love her. That’s good news for Laura, but bad news for Jordan: Who’ll dance with him at her wedding?
All this is the stuff of light entertainment à la “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” and “Significant Other” aspires to nothing more for roughly three-quarters of its length. Unfortunately, that part is neither very entertaining nor very original, save for the fact that Jordan’s dilemma is presented as universal rather than gay-specific. In fact, “Significant Other” plays like a gay Woody Allen comedy, only sitcommy and sentimental…
Since “Significant Other” made it well past intermission without showing any signs of becoming unpredictable, it seemed safe to assume that it would remain so to the finish line. But halfway through the second act, it suddenly metamorphoses into a different play with the same characters, a dead-serious look at the problem of being a lonely singleton in a world full of hurtfully contented couples….
From this moment on, the cliché tap is shut off and every character in “Significant Other” becomes touchingly real…
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Read the whole thing here.
A scene from the original Roundabout Theatre Company off-Broadway production of Significant Other, featuring Gideon Glick and Lindsay Mendez, who play the same roles in the Broadway transfer: