BWW Review: SIGNIFICANT OTHER at SF Playhouse is Joshua Harmon's Unorthodox Romantic Comedy About Finding the Fairytale Mr. Right
Poor Jordan Berman. All his BFF's will find love and marry leaving the sad bachelor alone, hurt and very angry. Director Lauren English takes writer Joshua Harmon's modest idea of a gay man's search for intimacy and delivers a delightful romcom that is universally relatable, authentically human and bittersweet. The play had successful runs off-Broadway in 2015 and a Broadway production in 2017 and tweaks the stereotypical romance by giving the usual supporting gay character the main role. His Jordan Berman watches as his closest friends marry off causing him to reflect on his fight to prove he deserves happiness as well.
Kyle Cameron as Jordan gives a stellar performance that walks the line between preening, self-effacing but lovable nerd with the angst of someone living with uncontrollable OCDC and depression.
Jordan is the ultimate cliché, "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride". Not only can't he Take That walk down the aisle, but he can't even be a part of the bridal party 'cept for reading a poem. His first girlfriend to marry is the wildly wicked Kiki, played with lusty delight by Hayley Lovgren. Next up is the acerbic Vanessa (Nicole-Azalee Danielle), but when his best best gal Laura (Rubio Qian) falls in love, Jordan cracks. All his failed attempts at dating, specifically the new gorgeous guy at work (Will played by August Browning), have left a huge hole in Jordan's psyche.
Harmon has a deft hand for writing a gay character and Jordan continues in the vein of Will & Grace and the numerous gay characters populating film since the late 80's. English has Jordan narrate the events to his gals in hilarious vignettes, using slide-in mini-sets created by Jacquelyn Scott that cover as workplace, Jordan's apartment, the church venues and bars. Jordan feels like the odd man out, but its partly of his own making. His compulsiveness is a put off for handsome Will and uber flouncy co-worker Gideon's (Greg Ayers) request for casual sex just doesn't fit into Jordan's philosophy. He's wound so tight that an explosion is almost required.
Joy Carlin has a delightful role as Jordan's grandmother, always asking about his social life and dispensing her homespun wisdom that "life is just a long, long book and you're just in a bad chapter". There's no neat, tidy happy ending to Significant Other. Jordan doesn't find his Mr. Right and is left to watch the last happy wedding couple take their first dance as man and wife.
Its bittersweet, but perhaps hopeful. Jordan can stand there, take in the moment and not feel left out. He's alone, but not lonely. Significant Other for all its comic sitcom feel, breezy casual dialogue and multiple neuroses, speaks to everyone who feels like the 'nuchslep third wheel'. We can either be there for our friends or not, independent of what's going on in our heads.
Significant Other continues through June 15th, 2019 at SF Playhouse, 558 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA. Tickets available at www. sfplayhouse.org or by calling (415) 677-9596.
Photos by Jessica Palipoli