BWW Review: OTHER LIFE FORMS at Keegan Theatre
Dating is rough.
"Other Life Forms," which premiered at the Keegan Theatre this week, opens with this reminder. The audience is witness to two very different internet dates: Ben and Molly in one restaurant, and Jeff and Leslie in another. Both couples, unsurprisingly, are off to an awkward start. But while Jeff and Leslie decide to diffuse the awkwardness of trying to date someone who already knows so much of your background by pretending they're on their third date, Ben and Molly's attempts to create humor out of their situation are decidedly less successful. As one date settles into comfortable conversation and the other spirals wildly out of control, the audience is taken for a recognizable ride; we can all relate to Ben and Molly's pain as the date gets increasingly worse, and, while we feel for them, it's impossible not to laugh at their familiar discomfort.
From this promising opening, "Other Life Forms" manages to take a funny and relatable premise and become even more entertaining as it picks up steam. I hesitate to give too much plot because the delivery of each twist is so brilliantly carried out by this cast that I want audiences to have the full delightful experience. John Loughney's earnest Jeff is the perfect guide for the audience through the increasingly absurd evening, and Josh Sticklin's Ben is a delightfully volatile character whose facial expressions alone could carry a scene. The two make an entertaining and refreshing odd-couple pairing as roommates, and anchor the absurdities of the show in a way that keeps it relatable.
Still, as funny as the show is (and, to be clear, it's very funny), "Other Life Forms" is also deeply philosophical. It explores what makes us uniquely human - love, friendship, and our own quest for answers about our lives and the universe. The play asks the audience to consider their own relationships, perspectives, and fears, and challenges viewers to contemplate them from a different point of view, from that of the other person or a total stranger.
While a significant amount of the charm of "Other Life Forms" comes from playwright Brandon McCoy's script and the incredibly talented cast, the staging is also noteworthy. The Keegan is an intimate theatre, and director Shirley Serotsky takes advantage of this, utilizing the both the theater itself and Matthew Keenan's wonderful set design to immerse the audience in the chaos that overruns Ben and Jeff's apartment. The audience is pulled into the action, and able to connect on a deeply personal level.
"Other Life Forms" is an insightful, comedic look into our own humanity. Sometimes, tackling a topic this profound can be difficult or sobering. Thankfully, "Other Life Forms" instead grins and asks, "Who decided life has to suck?"
Dating may be rough. Life may be rough. But it definitely doesn't have to suck.
"Other Life Forms" plays at the Keegan Theatre through July 7th.
Photo Credit: C. Stanley Photography