Seven Minutes in Heaven
Teens sulk and flirt in Steven Levenson's charming comedy.
Mon Jun 14 2010
TEEN EFFORT Stadelmann and Niedermeyer suffer the consequences of kissing games.
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Nothing says adolescence like a good, long wallow. Back then, there was no better answer to melancholy than drawing the drapes, putting on the Smiths and letting mild sadness mellow into a full-on funk. Playwright Steven Levenson is so committed to that teenage immersion mind-set, he spends most of his wildly charming Seven Minutes in Heaven soaking us in a single mood (mid-’90s, 14-year-old awkwardness) and sparing nary a glance for incident or plot. In fact, whenever Levenson does try to shape his slice-of-middle-school-life into something dramatic, his construction wobbles. As long as he simply lets us eavesdrop on familiar types (the arrogant jock, the mean girl) playing spin the bottle and gossiping over Ping-Pong—we bask in post--John Hughes, not-quite-nostalgic heaven.
In a scrupulously realized basement rec room (designer Daniel Zimmerman works wonders with the tiny HERE black box), Margot (Heidi Niedermeyer) tells us in sweetly disjointed prose about the boy she loved at camp. She then kicks off her party—at which geeky Wade (Matthew Stadelmann) adores her and nasty Ballard (a brilliant Erin Felgar) undermines her—the sort of get-together we’re all grateful to have well behind us. The show paces itself as parties do, with what-should-we-play-next aimlessness punctuated by sudden moments of abruptly adult pain. But even as we cringe for the characters, we revel in director Adrienne Campbell-Holt’s hyperrealistic production and the cast’s deft, thoroughly lived-in portraits. Levenson’s spot-on teen dialogue means that we’re at imminent risk of losing him to Hollywood. So before those Twilight people kidnap him for script punch-ups, you should bustle downtown to see his wistfulness and weirdness from just a few feet away.
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