note: entire contents copyright 2015 by Sheila Barth
M. Bevin O’Gara’s deft directing, a fantastic cast, and subtle stage effects successfully drive SpeakEasy Stage Company’s world premiere of Ken Urban’s one-act, 90-minute comedy,“A Future Perfect”. Although the play is geared to contemporary, thirtysomething professional couples, it strikes a chord with all theatergoers. We all have relatives and friends facing the same conflicts - to have or not have children; to jeopardize or not jeopardize career advancement; to preserve and not compromise strong, longstanding relationships because of potential parenthood.
Such is the case with tightknit couples, Claire (Marianna Bassham) and Max (Brian Hastert), Elena (Chelsea Diehl) and Alex (Nael Nacer), in the fall of 2011, in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Claire, Max, and Alex are close, longtime friends. Max and Alex had performed together, and still enjoy jamming and attending concerts together, with hopes of performing again sometime. The guys are also planning to attend a big, not-to-be-missed concert together, too.
Claire and Elena work in the same advertising company. Claire just received a significant promotion, when her (unseen) male co-worker, Charlie, was “let go”. She’s an ambitious workaholic, who’s fast-tracked to success. Elena, who is slightly younger and mild-mannered, is also in line for a promotion.
Alex has a good job selling insurance, but Claire’s easygoing husband, Max, writes for a children’s PBS-TV puppet show, and creates puppets. Like most people in the arts, Max had to take a pay cut - and worse That’s not quite as bad as being in the theater, though, Claire quips.
When the two couples get together at Claire and Max’s tony, restored brownstone,(thanks to superb set designer Cristina Todesco), the gals chitchat in one room while the guys talk in another. During their take-out Thai dinner, styrofoam boxes et al, Elena drops a bombshell. She’s pregnant - and Claire doesn’t take the news gracefully. In fact, she’s downright hostile. Elena is up for a promotion. Why does she want to screw that up, says Claire.
Thus begins the crux of this slick, fast-paced contemporary comedy. Bassham and Hastert exude fantastic chemistry, while Nacer and Diehl provide perfect timing, pace and emotion.
The fickle finger of fate takes many twists in “A Future Perfect,” as Claire and Max face challenges and self-realization, aided by their own and their best friends‘ changing circumstances.
Thrown in for good measure is Annabelle, precocious, detached, ambitious 11-year-old star of Max’s upcoming show that’s geared to families of returning war veterans. Annabelle is at Max and Claire’s house, rehearsing with him. A conversational exchange between the child and Claire is pivotal. Although her role is brief, petite Beverly High School freshman-veteran actress, Uatchet Jin Juch, is an impressive example of today’s bright, social media-technologically driven youngster.
Together, SpeakEasy Theatre Company’s terrific cast and crew make “A Future Perfect” a refreshing, satisfyingly funny walk in the park. There’s no gloom, no murder, no darkness - just an artfully performed, 90-minute, uninterrupted, straightforward glance at today’s upwardly mobile society. And the future looks pretty bright.
BOX INFO: World premiere of Ken Urban’s one-act, 90-minute comedy, appearing through Feb. 7 at the Roberts Studio Theatre, Stanford Calderwood Pavilion, Boston Center for the Arts, 527 Tremont St., South End, Boston. Performances:Wednesday, Thursday, at 7:30 p.m.;Friday, 8 p.m.; Saturday, 4,8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.; also Feb. 5, at 2 p.m. Tickets start at $25; senior discount, $5 off; age 25-under, $25; ages 26-40, $35; students with valid IDs two hours before curtain, at box office only, if available, $15. Fees for phone and Internet ticket sales; no fee for walk-up sales. Call 617-933-8600, visit www.SpeakEasyStage.com or www.BostonTheatreScene.com.