A lot of plays can take you places, but not many can buy you a first class ticket, wine and dine you, and leave you feeling better about the world. “Significant Other,” which opened to a packed house Friday night in the Jurkowitz Theatre, does just that.
The play, which was written by Joshua Harmon and premiered Off-Broadway in 2015, follows Jordan Berman, a 23-year old gay man living in New York City with his three best friends, Laura, Kiki and Vanessa. The narrative navigates the trials and comedy that accompany growing up and falling in love.
“We’re grownups, I keep forgetting,” Jordan said in Act I.
The play kicks off with Kiki’s bachelorette party, who’s the first of the four to find love.
Afterward, Jordan and Laura sit at home and tell themselves that they should just marry each other, promptly followed by a comedic performance of “Because You Loved Me,” the Celine Dion classic.
Throughout the play, we see Kiki, Vanessa, and Laura find love and get married, all while Jordan is crossing his fingers, hoping to find Mr. Right.
In Act I, Jordan falls for Will, a history buff who works in his office.
“What’s the opposite of a buff? That’s what I am about history,” says a nervous Jordan to Will.
Jordan, played wonderfully by City College student Christian Duarte, depicts the kind of feelings many of us have had about somebody. He writes an email to Will, asking him out to a screening of a documentary about the Franco-Prussian War, but runs it by his friends before sending it.
How many of us have done that? C’mon, put those hands up.
Jordan’s out-of-control nerves that appear when he thinks about Will are just one of the thousands of relatable moments in the play.
“He was wearing the same thing he wore to work and he still looked better than I did,” Jordan said about his date with Will.
For much of the play, Jordan and Will had us rooting for them to succeed, but this relationship is where we see the central conflict of this story.
Jordan wants to be in love, but cannot seem to find it in the vast sea of New York City.
“I’m almost 24 years old and nobody has ever told me they love me. That’s like a problem, isn’t it?,” Jordan said in a voicemail to Laura.
Jordan’s friends are crucial to this story, but another key character is Helene, Jordan’s grandmother.
Helene is the one that puts everything in perspective for Jordan. She is his rock and his guiding light.
“Don’t get old Jordan. Don’t die young, but don’t get old,” she said.
Duarte hits all the right notes in “Significant Other.” He’s on stage the entire show and serves as the heartbeat of the play. Without Duarte’s phenomenal portrayal of Jordan, the show would feel like it is missing something vital.
Duarte’s Jordan is supported by an extremely strong cast, including Aurora Gooch’s brilliant portrayal of Laura.
City College’s version of “Significant Other” gets everything right, and they do not falter, but the show’s strongest point comes at the end when the Jordan and Laura face their biggest challenge as best friends.
Laura, who is the last of Jordan’s three friends to get married, is celebrating her engagement at her bachelorette party when Jordan suddenly storms out. She follows him, and the two fall into an argument over the fact that Jordan thinks she is going all out for her wedding because it’s “what she is supposed to do.”
Laura argues that Jordan, as her best friend, should be happy for her and her fiance, Tony— played by UCSB student Irving Soto— but Jordan argues that they are, in fact, no longer best friends at all.
“We haven’t been best friends for a while and we’re not in college anymore,” Jordan said.
By this point, Jordan is so tired of being broken hearted that he sees all the flaws in his best friend but is blind to the fact that she is happy, and that she wants him to be happy with her.
Laura gives Jordan an out, saying that he doesn’t have to come to her wedding, but he goes anyways.
For their first dance, Laura and Tony dance to “Because You Loved Me.” Jordan stands alone on stage with a single spotlight on him and is, if even for a moment, confident.
Then, the lights went black, and the audience erupted in applause.
“Significant Other” is about love. As Director Katie Laris writes, this play is about “finding love, being loved, losing love and desiring love above all else.”
SBCC’s Theatre Group depicts the conflict and the comedy of “Significant Other,” perfectly.
This was the best play I have seen in years, and I knew that about a quarter of the way through the first act. The actors grab your attention, the set keeps your eyes glued to the stage.
“Significant Other” is everything and more. I left the theatre smiling at the end of a long day.
“Significant Other” runs until April 27 in the Jurkowitz Theatre.