BWW Reviews: YEARS TO THE DAY Shares 80 Frenetic Minutes of Conversation Between Two Old Friends
These days, we hang on to people and friendships through the impressions we get from their online profiles. In Allen Barton's world premiere play YEARS TO THE DAY at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, two 40-something men, who have been friends for decades but only cursorily in touch via social media over the past four years, finally get together for coffee. But their long anticipated "face to face" meeting reaps surprising consequences when truthful and dramatic changes in each of their lives are revealed.
Michael Yavnieli and Jeff LeBeau play Dan and Jeff, old friends who have much in common and a shared history. Friends since college, both are now in their 40's dealing with the usual mid-life crisis - marriage, divorce, sexual identity, children, politics, religion, as well as the mundane such as which phones are best, ogling women, why it is better to go after women who own large dogs, arguing over the latest film, and how much gray hair is sexy.
Jabbering away at lightening fast speed, the two actors move from topic to topic without a breath to spare. Gradually they realize both are dealing with which came first, loneliness or texting? It's the modern version of the chicken vs. the egg argument. They agree that now is the time to be in touch with who they are, yet neither seems willing to really share much personal information at first.
Finally Dan breaks down and admits to his serious health problem, to which Jeff tells him that 50 is the new 40. Of course an argument ensues after that statement, and you almost feel Michael Yavnieli is going to pass out from the tension building as he sits and tries to absorb the stupidity he believes Jeff is spouting.
Of course Jeff (Jeff LeBeau) has two big secrets he eventually shares with Dan - he is now divorced and gay. The nervousness Lebeau exudes as he contemplates coming out to his friend is heart-wrenching. And while Dan does his best to believe and then accept his friend's truth, deep down you can sense Dan's conservative beliefs are sorely being tested. Eventually he admits he has no idea what conversation he is in, calling himself an "assholic" when he realizes he has offended his friend, but offering only a cursory apology before changing the subject to more neutral subjects - politics, then babysitting, taxes, cars, and religion. They are off and running at the mouth again.
Yavnieli and Lebeau really do seem like old friends first trying to one-up each other before they really start confiding in each other. With their exchanged looks during rare quiet moments to their eaSy Manner even when arguing at the top of their lungs, you will be drawn into the relationship between these two men who are just trying to know how to live their lives now that they finally know who they are.
The set is simple - just a table with two chairs. Director Joel Polis keeps the two extraordinary actors sitting at the table for most of the play, making you forget the simple setting and focus on every word reflecting the modern and challenging world in which we all live.
Be advised this play is full of adult language!
YEARS TO THE DAY, a DARK COMEDY, written by Allen Barton and directed by Joel Polis at the Beverly Hills Playhouse, 254 South Robertson Blvd., Beverly Hills 90211. Performances are Friday, Saturday 8pm and Sunday 7pm through May 12, 2013. Tickets are $25- $30. For reservations call 702 KTC-TKTS (702-582-8587) or online atwww.ktctickets.com