THEATER REVIEW: “Speech and Debate” @ Barrington Stage [Berkshire on Stage]

Austin Davidson and Betsy Hogg (photo: Justin Allen)
Austin Davidson and Betsy Hogg (photo: Justin Allen)

Review by Macey Levin

There is an upbeat, hilarious, very contemporary show which is a valuable experience for both young and older audiences at Barrington Stage Company’s St. Germain Stage in Pittsfield. Speech and Debate, which premiered off-Broadway in 2007, was one of the first plays written by Stephen Karam, who won a Tony Award last year for Humans.

The play opens with Howie (Austin Davidson), a student at a Salem, Oregon high school, corresponding via e-mail with an older man, setting up a date to meet in a park. The messages are on screens in projections designed by Alex Basco Koch at the rear of Reid Thompson’s finely designed utilitarian set.

We then meet Solomon (Ben Getz), a reporter for the high school newspaper, writing a story about Salem’s mayor having illicit relations with several teen-age boys. His teacher/advisor (Edelen McWilliams) attempts to dissuade and then refuses to allow him to write the story. Being determined, he locates Howie for an interview that blossoms into a tenuous friendship.

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

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