BWW Reviews: LaBute Goes Soft in THE WAY WE GET BY
From plays like Fat Pig, Some Girl(s) and In A Dark Dark House Neil LaBute has built a reputation for writing male characters who are cruel, sexist, arrogant and just plain repulsive. With The Way We Get By, the playwright adds an unexpected adjective to the list: insipid.
Not that the female character is any more interesting in his awkward relationship two-hander. You might call his 90-minute piece a sweet tale about going for what you want no matter what other people may think if it weren't for the characters being so annoying and dull.
Set in the living room of the apartment Beth (Amanda Seyfried) shares with her unseen roommate, the story begins in the early morning hours after a social event that ended with her in bed with Doug (Thomas Sadoski).
Hung over and unsure of what happens next, Doug stumbles out of the bedroom wide awake and looks for something to do until Beth, wearing his prized autographed Star Wars t-shirt, comes out to see if he's trying to sneak away before she wakes up.
After uncertain mutual interrogation as to whether or not they're going to spend the rest of the night together, their conversation diverts into subjects like Comic-Con, American Apparel and whether or not drinking Smartwater makes you smart. LaBute has a skill for sharp and clever dialogue but in this case the pair spends so much time avoiding saying anything relevant to the situation that you know the author's hiding something.
When the big reveal is made, nearly an hour into the play, it's not particularly big and, at this point, somewhat expected. There are some silly antics where Doug helps Beth perform an act of rebellion against her oppressive roomie and we're outta here.
Under Leigh Silverman's direction, the actors take on a sitcom-hip style of acting that has the scruffy Sadoski all puppy-dog neurotic and Seyfried popping with bottled-up frustration. Despite some physically intimacy, it's difficult to picture the two functioning as a couple. It's more difficult to figure out why Beth doesn't kick Doug out of her apartment after ten minutes of his indecisive babbling.