Francesca Ravera and André Vauthey give solid performances in Neil LaBute's THE WAY WE GET BY at Urban Stages.
The story, with an awkward twist at the end (I won’t spoil it), pits the two young actors in an awkward moment shortly after the two have drunkenly ended up in the sack after a party.
Beth (played by Ravera) is sassy, sexy, and full of enthusiasm as the coy young woman that has just bedded Doug (played by Vauthey). Clearly, whatever spark set this union in motion is still alive with the playful Beth as she makes her way out of the bedroom only to find Doug wandering around aimlessly in the apartment. Something in this unexpected turn of events has created a certain awkwardness in Doug which is the thread of the mystery this story unfolds.
Why Doug is avoiding further contact with Beth becomes a bit perplexing as it seems clear there is some spark between the two. For Vauthey, the challenge is in teetering back and forth in his indecision, and that comes across beautifully. He is charming, clearly torn with some inner turmoil we don’t yet understand, and even more likeable in a way that makes you wonder why he would reject Beth.
As Beth, Ravera pulls all the stops. Her performance is natural, very believable, with a sweet mix of vulnerability and strength that is perfect for this character. The timing between the two, and the ability to capture the funny moments is endearing enough to keep you glued to that perplexing question: what could possibly be holding Doug back. There is mischief in these performances, which later becomes obvious when the “reveal” happens.
Excellent direction and blocking on this really cool set (Duane Pagano) brings you into the moment right away. For Director Kim T. Sharp, the challenge is to keep this otherwise “talky” play interesting and engaging. And he does that perfectly, orchestrating the action in a tiny space to make you feel the push and pull of the situation, adding to the tension.
Simple but clever technique to make you believe that there is a giant screen tv in the room is achieved with some clever lighting and sound by John Salutz.
Neil LaBute's THE WAY WE GET BY closed on Sunday, April 14th.