BWW Review: BE HERE NOW at Everyman Theatre - A Touching Dramady About Happiness and Laughter
If I said one should come to the Everyman Theatre and see a play that deals with Geschwind Syndrome you may want to pass or even google it. But do not be put off by this. Just relax and see a play that deals with it. I never heard of this Syndrome and it truly does not make a difference if you know about it beforehand or after you see it. What you will see is an individual who has fainting spells due to temporal lobe epilepsy which results in sexual behavioral disorders.
Now to the play which begins with "Bari" (played by the incomparable Beth Hylton who directed this play last year at Everyman's Salon reading) laughing her way during a boring yoga class with two of her fellow employees Patty (Katy Carkuff) and Luanne (Shubhangi Kuchibhotla). The three of them work in a workplace where they pack Tchotchkes from Tibet for shipment after they cut off "Made in China" labels. 'Patty" and "Luanne" seem to love their jobs while "Bari" is bored to death.
"Bari" is also on a deadline to write her long overdue thesis on "Nihilism" which rejects all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless. She has lost her job as a professor in New York City due to her inability to complete her dissertation and returns home to hometown 100 miles north of New York to wrap gifts. Do not let this put you off. This is a comedy remember.
Everything changes when "Patty" fixes "Bari" up with a relative, "Mike" (Kyle Prue who returns to the Everyman boards after a 9-year hiatus, thankfully).
"Mike" arrives for the blind date riding his bike and wearing a helmet and oh does he have a story. He had a wonderful job, made lots of money, had a lovely home, a wife and child and one day has an auto accident where his wife and child die. He also causes the death of others and decides to give all of his possessions to the victims of his negligence, lives in a small cabin with his pet crow named Hubble, collects all sorts of garbage and items thrown away which he uses to make homes. "Bari" can't believe he received a MacArthur Grant for this great recycling. Thus, money is no object.
"BarI" is subject to headache-related seizures. Her friends at her job witnessed these as did "Mike". She refuses an ambulance. But soon, she changes completely. Suddenly she longs for affection and sex.
She realizes she has a choice. Take care of the seizures by removing a tumor and go back to her simple boring life or deal with the seizures and the joy it brought.
The playwright explains the origins of her play: "BE HERE NOW is about the search for joy, against all odds. I came across a podcast of someone talking about having Geschwind syndrome. She said she was generally a depressive person and for the first time in her life she was finding joy and meaning in life. Then she learned she had to have it (the tumor) removed. She did have it removed and regretted it, regretted losing that, like mourned that joy for the rest of her life, so I thought "Oh, this is definitely a play."
As one can easily see, there is a lot here to understand but if one just goes along with the flow, you will thoroughly enjoy it.
It is worth it alone to see Beth Hylton's magnificent performance. It's as if the play was written for her! Prue is simply superb as the rest of the cast.
Set Designer Daniel Ettinger once again deserves kudos for his terrific set, a turntable that combines a yoga studio, the fulfillment center, a hospital, and a cabin. David Burdick does the spot-on costumes, Harold F. Burgess II the moving lighting, and Sarah O'Halloran the terrific sound design.
Deborah Zoe Laufer directs her own play beautifully.
The 90-minute play flies by. It runs until Feb. 16, 2020. For tickets, call 410-752-2208 or visit www.everymantheatre.org.
On Sunday, Feb. 9 after the 2 p.m. matinee there will be Panel Discussion in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Social Work.
Following the Thursday Feb. 13 7:30 performance there will be a post-show talkback moderated by Resident Company Member Bruce Randolph Nelson.
Check out a nice exhibition in Everyman's basement art gallery. I've read that one of the goals of Everyman is to enrich audience experiences. One of the way they do this is to curate an art gallery that supports each production by highlighting the play's theme and helping to shed a new light on the play.
Artist Ed Gross fit that bill since he deals with material that has been literally thrown away as the character "Mike" in the play. Everyman discovered his work online and thought it would make a great fit to show in tandem with BE HERE NOW.
According to Gross, "They saw the connection to my work and thought it would be perfect for the gallery. What a wonderful way to allow artists to display their work to new and larger audiences. BRAVO!"
Check out his website at www.edgrossart.com.
Everyman's New Voices Festival begins with QUEEN'S GIRL BLACK IN THE GREEN MOUNTAINS running March 3 to April 12. BERTA, BERTA, runs March 17 to April 26. CRY IT OUT runs March 31 to May 3.