Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Looking for Mr. Right, but Falling in the Wrong Traps

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Looking for Mr. Right, but Falling in the Wrong Traps

Article excerpt

You can make your leading character good. Or bad. What you don't want to do is make him irritating.

In "Significant Other," which opened Thursday night at the Laura Pels Theatre, playwright Joshua Harmon wanted, I think, to fashion Jordan (Gideon Glick), a 20-something desperately looking for Mr. Right, as a sympathetic figure.

But in charting the character's very recognizable anxiety about finding a mate, he goes too far, making Jordan an elaborately anxious, and then belligerent, train wreck. Not only does it become increasingly difficult to empathize, it's hard to tolerate being in the same space with him.

Harmon, a young author whose previous comedy, "Bad Jews," became a surprise hit, begins with Jordan having the emotional buffer of close friendships with three women. Two are sketchily characterized: Kiki (Sas Goldberg) is crass and narcissistic; Vanessa (Carra Patterson) is smart but glum. The third, however, Laura, his oldest and closest friend, is given a warm, rich human dimension in a lovely performance by Lindsay Mendez. She makes it easy to believe Laura and Jordan are soul mates.

Jordan becomes infatuated with Will (John Behlmann), a tall, handsome, friendly co-worker, but is unsure if he's gay. His agonizing attempts to find out, and to move the possible relationship forward, are sweetly amusing at first. But by the time Jordan sinks into an endless should-I, shouldn't-I dither over whether to send Will an email, his anxiety has turned exasperating.

As long as he's able to share his relationship woes with his female friends and spend time with them, Jordan can maintain a certain equilibrium. But when they begin, one by one, to fall in love with heterosexual men, and then marry them, inevitably having less time for Jordan, he becomes increasingly alienated and bitter.

He's especially devastated with the loss of attention from Laura - - even though he approves of the nice guy she's marrying -- exploding with a cruel, selfish, monster-sized tantrum at her bachelorette party, centering on her failure to make him a bridesmaid. …

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