Yuppie angst has pretty much gone the way of the dinosaur since the baby boomers began to cast off their training wheels. Richard Greenberg's Eastern Standard, written at the stress point of the generational meltdown, is a little tattered around the edges, and the pages are slightly yellowed. Nevertheless, in the hands of John Ross Clark and his team of well-seasoned actors, the Colony Theatre's revival-the first Second Stage production at the company's elegant new home in Burbank-the play still holds up for the most part, despite some of the now defunct concepts it embraces.
Stephen (Darin Anthony) has the distinct feeling he is nothing more nor less than urban blight. "You're not blight," his pal Drew (Chad Borden) reassures him, "you're an architect." Drew has problems of his own; he can't seem to find a relationship that has the potential of permanence. Phoebe (Laura Wernette), on the edge of her own suicidal pivot, is in a co-dependent relationship with a partner in her Wall Street firm who is doing a fair imitation of a man on the way to self-destruction. Her brother, Peter (Gil Bernardi), has problems that put all the others to shame. Brought together by a chatty actress/waitress, Ellen (Stacey Silverman), and a rowdy derelict, May Logan (Sandra Kinder), the four yuppies find themselves cohabiting on Fire Island at Stephen's summer place. In an act of secular humanism, the foursome enrolls in a politically correct project, inviting Ellen and the seemingly rehabbed May to join them as their guests. The balance of power shifts recklessly as the summer shakedown crew runs into storms, icebergs, and potential shipwreck.
Greenberg is a compelling writer of fine literary language, which is well handled by the sterling cast. Clark draws out most of the humor and much of the pathos of this well-wrought play, eliciting the perpetual party ambiance of the sometimes claustrophobic Fire Island scene, even while using the set of Dandelion Wine, the Colony's First Stage production. This is a particularly intelligent cast of standouts who are well aware what they're doing, what they have to do, and why. And they do it splendidly.
On a point of personal preference,
particular kudos to Colony's educated audience, who help maintain the necessary
theatrical suspense by knowing not to applaud every time the lights go
down on a scene. Like clapping at the end of each movement in a symphony,
the above infractions should be banned, or their perpetrators shot.
Copyright 2000 Back Stage