We all have had the experience of making a friend when we were younger, one that remains a friend into our adult lives, but what happens to that relationship when one or the other, or even both become famous? In Theater Wit’s season opener, “The Four of Us” written by Itamar Moses, we get to see the deconstruction of a relationship that changes the lives of these two boyhood friends. There are only two characters in this play- David ( a quality performance by Usman Ally) and Benjamin ( deftly handled by Collin Geraghty). As boys they met when attending summer music camp and remained friends until they reached adulthood. The play begins in a restaurant where Benjamin tells David that he has written a novel that is being published and that the movie rights have been sold as well. David, a struggling playwright appears to be delighted at his friends success, in reality, must reexamine the relationship and bond they have had.
Directed by Jeremy Wechsler on one of the new stages at Theater Wit on Belmont, what we see is a series of flashbacks as well as some “now”. We learn about the true friendship that these young men shared growing up and the jealousy that comes when one reaches higher goals than the other. As we progress through their lives, we find that David has indeed written a play that deals with the very subject of their lives and what we are watching is indeed the play he has written about their relationship and the actual story of what took place, thus the title, “The Four Of Us” rather than “The Two of Us” as each of our characters has two sides to explore- the young hopeful aspiring to reach greatness and the adult who has succeeded, only at what price?
This is a tight 90 minutes of flashbacks and stage appearances that unravel the real story of these two men ( and boys) and what happens between them as the years of camaraderie they had fall apart. We all strive for success and for the most part, we wish our good friends the same. But, deep down, if our best friend does better than we do, isn’t there just a bit of jealousy? No matter how great one’s successes are, it bothers us just a little when a friend surpasses our success with even greater success. In the press notes they refer to the relationship between these two men as “frenemies”, a friend that because of specific reasons, becomes an enemy. In Moses’ story, in the play written by David, Benjamin is the one that changes dramatically causing the drifting apart, and of course, as a playwright, he has taken some dramatic liberties. Benjamin feels that he done nothing wrong, but is deeply hurt by the way he is depicted by his Frenemy, David.
There are some very funny moments in this drama-comedy and these two fine actors bring their characters some strong reality. The set by Roger Wykesis very simple with fairly quick changes from their camp bunk room, to a restaurant, to a theater, to a swank living room, all done to some lively music and all the changes were done by the two understudies for our principal actors, Casey Kells and Raymond Shoemaker. The time period of the soryis from 1997 through 2007, so we cover ten years in the lives of these young men- from teen to adult. “The Four of Us” will have different meanings to different members of the audience ( which by the way was very young tonight) as each will think back to someone they were friendly within either their high school days ( or even college days) who has attained great success or even in some cases, greatness, while they have either just survived or fell short of the goals they set. This is really a “think piece” and one that might be perfect for a talk-back after the show to examine what we saw and felt. The only thing that I found fault with is the smoking- if an actor is going to play that he is a smoker, it should look real. Both of these actors, I am sure, are non smokers as they fiddled with the ashtray every time and never looked natural. Did it really have to be a part of the play at all?
“The Four Of Us” will continue at Theater Wit located at 1229 West Belmont Avenue ( three very pleasant 99 seat theaters ) through December 4th with performances Friday and Saturday at 8P.M. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $15-$30 and can be purchased at the box office, by phone at 773-975-8150 or online at www.TheaterWit.org
There is street parking and Theater Wit has made arrangements with Cooper’s Restaurant directly across the street for parking in their rear lot. By the way, they have a great menu, affordable prices and if you advise them you are attending the theater, they will make sure that you are served in plenty of time to enjoy your meal and not have to look at your watch. They do take reservations 773-929-COOP (2667)