From the moment you walk in the door at Black Lab Theatre, you feel like you've walked into a friend's house. Before the performance, audiences can come early to enjoy a little Mario Kart, air hockey or some beer pong, before seeing the theatre's latest production of "Really Really", which made its regional premiere last night.
Young playwright Paul Downs Colaizzo, now aged 28, surprised audiences with this socially conscious, gripping and at times humorous look at college life. Colaizzo takes what we know about college life and the mentality of those at that age and puts them in a familiar setting, a raging party, to examine what happens when we are truly tested by accusations.
Director and Black Lab Theatre’s Artistic Director Jordan Jaffe created the perfect pre-show atmosphere to experience the production. In the program, Jaffe states about the play “[it’s] one of the most important, provocative dramas that have been written about millennials by a millennial”. His obvious passion for the theater mixed with his desire to showcase “socially conscious dramas” will be what continues to make his theater a success.
Overall, the plot is an all too common and seemingly harmless scenario just a group of kids at a raging college party getting drunk and enjoying themselves. Audience’s first meet the women, Leigh (Teresa Zimmermann) and Grace (Rachel Rubin) as they stumble home from the raging party, both apparently damaged, Grace appears more so with a bleeding gash on her hand yet as audiences discover Leigh might be the more damaged from the nights events. The next morning, brainy Grace is off to her Future Leaders of America conference and Leigh is left to recover from the hangover.
On the other side, we meet the boys for the bunch, the studious, just do your work Johnson (Domonique Champion), slacker Cooper (Blake Weir) and perpetual “good boy” Davis (Scott Gibbs). It’s the expected guy’s house discussion of “who got laid” after a big party. Much to their surprise and approval, they find the good Davis turned into the “bad boy” sleeping with the girlfriend of friend and Rugby teammate, Jimmy (James Monaghan).
As the story continues, Jimmy returns from a family trip away to discover that his “friend” has slept with his girlfriend, only she tells the story a different way. Suddenly a stupid drunken mistake, turns into sexual allegations and friends, teammates, roommates, everyone taking sides and no one’s life will be the same after the dust settles.
Zimmermann gives a convincing performance of the headstrong, sure to survive Leigh. She creates a character that audiences can’t quite understand, is she the victim or a liar? Gibbs performance of Davis, the almost golden boy who suddenly is accused of something unimaginable is quite the transformation. Audiences see him transform on stage from any typical college student to desperate, calculating and fighting to survive accused man.
The entire cast around the leading actors creates just the right dynamic to highlight the delicate themes of this play. When such life changing accusations are thrown around you discover who your friends truly are and in our “generation me” audience are asked to examine just how selfish are we? Picking sides, looking out for number one and deciding what are you willing to do to survive are just a few of the complicated areas this play covers. An interesting social commentary, which creates meaningful discussion about the direction in which our society is heading.
“Really Really” is the season closer for Black Lab Theatre and if you have not made your way to see one of their productions, don’t miss your chance to see this controversial, hard hitting show. Playing now through May 3rd (Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm and one Monday, April 21st at 8 pm) at Frenetic Theater (5102 Navigation Blvd, Houston). For ticket information, visit www.blacklabtheatre.com, call 713-515-4028 or pick them up at the door (if they aren’t sold out). Be sure to connect with them socially on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date on future seasons and productions.