BWW Review: Gideon Glick Yearns For Romance in Joshua Harmon's Enrapturing SIGNIFICANT OTHER
"I'm almost twenty-nine years old and no one has ever told me they love me," says the sweet, funny and open-hearted Jordan during a monologue that opens the second act of Joshua Harmon's giddy and enrapturing romantic comedy, Significant Other.
But judging from the reaction to that line from Wednesday night's final preview audience at Broadway's Booth Theatre, it was apparent that plenty in the house had fallen in love with the scrappy young fellow, starry-eyed for his unknown Mr. Right.
The combination of Harmon's script, which nicely glides between hip humor and touching explorations of loneliness, and the leading performance of Gideon Glick - tousled, empathetic and cheerfully witty - might be enough to turn the most cynical soul into a hopeless romantic.
Jordan is rather gameless on the dating scene and his three best friends are straight women Kiki (Sas Goldberg as a hilariously irresponsible party girl), Vanessa (wryly-humored Rebecca Naomi Jones) and, in many ways his soul-mate, Laura (Lindsay Mendez). The fact that Jordan doesn't seem to have any male friends, much less boyfriends, is a quirk in the play that's never addressed.
The story begins at Kiki's bachelorette party, where Jordan and Laura discuss their tongue-in-cheek plans to be each other's last resort. At friends' weddings (Vanessa's soon follows), when guests are invited to join the happy couple in their first dance, the two have traditionally shared that moment.
In her supporting role, the excellent Mendez is every bit as open-hearted and emotion-tugging as Glick, and while both characters yearn for romance, it's very clear that this is not a case where a straight woman wishes her male best friend was straight, despite their extraordinarily deep friendship.
But, when Laura gets engaged, who is the dateless Jordan supposed to dance with when she has her first spin with her new hubby?
Not that he isn't in there trying. Jordan goes to a movie with a hot new guy at his office (John Behlmann) but he can't figure out if they're on a date or if he's even gay. A reconnection with an old friend (Luke Smith) seems promising, but then abruptly ends. Behlmann and Smith give solid supporting turns, with the former also playing Laura's sympathetic fiance and the latter as Jordan's sassy co-worker.
Jordan's visits with his bluntly philosophical grandmother Helene (the wonderful Barbara Barrie) only remind him of his loneliness. An interesting touch is that while Helene obviously adores Jordan, she seems hesitant to recognize his sexuality. When discussing his "social life" she sticks to gender-neutral pronouns.
I'll admit to finding Significant Other no better than admirably pleasant when this mounting originated at Roundabout's Laura Pels Theatre during the summer of 2015, but there's a noticeably new spark in director Tripp Cullman's production, that neatly glides from effervescent to emotionally raw. If there have been script changes, they don't appear to have been major. Jones is the only new addition to the cast, but perhaps what's happening is a strengthened connection between Mendez's Laura and Glick's Jordan as their relationship moves far beyond the straight woman/gay man dynamic typically found in popular culture. A second act confrontation that has Laura in tears because Jordan feel she's abandoning him by getting married is brutal to watch and you can legitimately ache for both characters.
You can also factor in the difference in audience makeup from a non-profit subscription-based Off-Broadway house to a commercial Broadway venue. The second act begins with a wordless moment that has Jordan in front of his laptop, holding his finger above the keyboard and seriously contemplating whether or not to click "send" on a very needy-sounding email to his uncommunicative movie companion. A large percentage of the audience transformed from paying customers to concerned friends, calling out "No! No! Don't!" to the romantically perplexed fellow.
Whatever the reason, Significant Other is a significant contribution to this Broadway season.