THEATER REVIEW: “Actually” @ Williamstown Theatre Festival [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Gail M. Burns
Two first-year students at Princeton: Thomas Anthony (Joshua Boone) and Amber Cohen (Alexandra Socha). Thomas is black and a talented piano player. Amber is a white and Jewish, and a bundle of conflicting ambitions and desires. Both are eighteen. Legally, they are adults, but as we listen to the stories they tell in Anna Ziegler’s beautifully crafted Actually, now on the Nikos Stage at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, it is apparent that they are only on the very verge of adulthood, still teetering on the last crumbling precipice of their adolescence. So do we call them a man and a woman, or a boy and a girl? While the play deals with a very serious adult matter, I feel called to use the latter nomenclature.
The early weeks of college that they describe are both familiar – the sheer terror at being uprooted from the life you have known, the academic demands, the realization that this is your chance to remake yourself but you don’t know who you were, let alone who you might want to be – and shockingly different to an old duffer like me – the expectation that you will drink heavily and engage in endless casual sex, even if that isn’t remotely who you are, and living in the endless fishbowl that is the current state of social media.