Photo: Richard Termine
There are certain things that are devilishly difficult to pull off in a play. One is having middle-aged people reminisce about a shared wild youth without sounding artificial. Another is assigning characters different political points of view without making them two-dimensional "theme-bearers" rather three-dimensional humans. A third is having characters drink themselves into brutal honesty without writing a pale copy of the works of Albee or O'Neill.
I am sad to say that David Hay's new play, A Perfect Future, directed by Wilson Milam, does not succeed at overcoming these difficulties.
Natalie and John are visited by their old friend Elliot. Decades ago, the three shared sex, drugs, and radical politics. Natalie is now a film maker; John is on Wall Street; Elliot is raising money for the defense of a former Black Panther they all knew, now a Muslim in jail for terrorist activity. John has invited along one of his staff members, Mark, supposedly to provide a potential match for Elliot, but really to set the plot in motion. Much wine is drunk. Much, much, much wine is drunk. Oh, boy, is a lot of wine drunk.
John is supposedly an oenophile, but his behavior does not match the description. It is hard to tell whether this is a character point or careless writing, particularly since the production is sloppy about which bottles supposedly contain red wine and which supposedly white.
So, anyway, they drink and drink and drink. They drink so much that one has to wonder if the unnecessary intermission was added to give the actors a pee break.
At some point in the evening's festivities, Mark makes a comment so egregiously wrong that the others turn on him. The problem is that it is so egregiously wrong that he would never, ever, in a million years have said it in that room at that time. Then the other characters go on to say a lot of things they would never say. Oh, and they drink a lot. Did I mention that? That they drink?
When finally the social masks have been stripped away, some of the characters turn out to be not what we expected. But they turn out to be unbelievable as well.
At its best, A Perfect Future is a third-rate copy of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. At its worst, it is watching a bunch of people drink dyed water.
(reviewer comp; eighth row on the aisle)