Dueling Reviews

Here in Philly, in the past three months, two separate companies have produced Kenneth Lonergan's Bright Lights Big City-era drama This Is Our Youth. What I found most interesting about the productions was the difference in directorial perspective on the character Dennis Ziegler. Where the first director saw him as a threat (Revolution), the second saw him as a plain old loser (Simpatico), and I suspect the difference may lie in the fact that the first director is a man and the second a woman. 

Maybe a young male director has more at stake in Dennis'  self-mythologizing. If Dennis is completely full of crap and bluster, well then, what does that say about a director who identifies with him? Apply this question to Lonergan's constant reminders that the guy you are in 20 years will be a pale reflection of the guy you are today, and you've just provided the bellows that will fan Dennis' bonfire of the vanities into an inferno. A woman can see right through Dennis' bluff without any ill personal effects. However, I'm sure it's no coincidence that in the second production, the female character, Jessica, is far more sympathetic than in the first. 

Here's today's review from the Philadelphia Inquirer coupled with my review of the earlier show. 

October 13, 2008 9:30 AM | | Comments (2)


Thanks Jim.

Philly is absolutely a serious theatre town and it's high time the regional Tonys also recognized that fact.

"Maybe a young male director has more at stake in Dennis' self-mythologizing."

Very insightful, and much appreciated. I wish the Inky gave you the space to write comparative reviews like this. Not only do I like this type of commentary far more than the "consumer guide" reporting, but it treats Philadelphia as a serious theatre town worthy of analysis and artistic criticism.

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