Barrington Stage Company’s THIS, a tightly composed, often funny, sometimes quirky, one-act, 90-minute, five-character drama is about grief. The topic isn’t that often explored with characters who are late30/ early 40somethings not yet ready for a full-blown mid-life crisis. Jane (played by Julia Coffey) has been widowed with a young daughter for a year. She pretends she’s not grieving, careening from emotional inertness to angry outbursts among her tight group of best friends who met at college. Marrell (Erica Dorfler) and husband Tom (Eddie Boroevich) aren’t adjusting well to new parenthood. Alan (Mark H. Dold), the gay bachelor, observes the group’s dynamics better than the rest. Enter the attractive and available Jean-Pierre (Paris Remillard) whom Marell and Tom want to fix-up with Jane.
Playwright Melissa Jane Gibson surprises us how this configuration of friends is upset by Jane’s unwise action. Thanks to an impeccably cast ensemble, and very tidy direction by Louisa Proske, the story gets engagingly revealed. Ms Dofler and Mr. Boroevich convey the tension of a marriage that’s well past a 7-year itch. Mr. Ramillard conveys a disarming sexual enigma. Mark H. Dold (along with actor Jeffrey McCarthy the most versatile actor in BSC's acting company) gets beyond comic relief - he lands his bon-mots without either hamming it up or camping it up – succoring his own inner loneliness (which is why he understands Jane the best). Julia Coffey’s Jane is woman clinging to stubborn intelligence while dancing around the edge at the same time.
If the ending seems a little too pat, a little too convenient, that’s OK because THIS is a poignant lesson in how grief distorts life, how pain begets pain. What’s more, THIS shows how the journey from loss back to a purposeful life can happen.
purposeful life can happen.