photo: Joan Marcus
Both enormously entertaining and thought-provokingly topical, this pithy dramedy is instantly one of my favorite shows of the year. The play (which depicts three misfit high schoolers who might or might not go public with a private sex scandal involving the school's drama teacher) is swift, smart and snappy: the playwright (Stephen Karam) has humorously and sensitively captured the ridiculous pathos of adolescence without condascending to the characters. He's set the teenagers (and two adult characters, both played by Susan Blackwell with zest and an eye for keen detail) in a dynamic story which emphasizes the peculiarity of our times, when the line between public and private information is indistinct. (He's also written, for the character played by an astonishing newcomer named Sarah Steele, the funniest monologue I've seen on stage since The Little Dog Laughed last season.) Each of the five pitch-perfect performances are marked by highly specific, quirky choices: everyone (under Jason Moore's direction) is taking bold chances with their characterizations that serve the play. Speech And Debate is the inaugural show at a new black box space under the Laura Pels Theatre, which the Roundabout intends to program exclusively with new plays by emerging writers. I've no idea how the plan will end up, but they've undoubtedly made a sensational start.
Also blogged by: [Aaron] and [David]