THEATER REVIEW: “This” at Barrington Stage Co. [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Barbara Waldinger
Barrington Stage Company’s play captures “the hilarious yet touching relationships of a circle of friends as they back their way into middle age.” So reads the Pittsfield theater company’s description of Melissa James Gibson’s play, This. True, but their production offers infinitely more to the fortunate theatergoers who make their way to see This on the St. Germain Stage. The writing, directing and acting are of the highest caliber and make it a must-see in a season filled with quality work.
Winner of an OBIE Award for her 2002 play, [sic], and numerous fellowships, Gibson has seen her work produced on stages throughout the country. When asked about her literary style, she explains: “I’m definitely attracted to writing that really sits on the edge of comic and deeply painful. That, to me, is where life exists most fully.” Premiering in 2009 at Playwrights Horizons, This is a character-driven play about four Gen-Xers who met in college some 20 years earlier — the interracial couple Tom (Eddie Boroevich), a carpenter, and Marrell (Erica Dorfler), a jazz singer, whose baby doesn’t sleep more than 15 minutes at a time; Jane (Julia Coffey), a recently widowed poetry teacher and mother; and their gay, Jewish, single sidekick, Alan (Mark H. Dold in a virtuoso performance). Add to the mix an outsider, Jean-Pierre (Paris Remillard), a charming French Doctor Without Borders, whom Tom and Marrell clumsily set up with Jane.