Actually

Theater, Drama
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Actually
Photograph: Courtesy Matthew Murphy

Theater review by Regina Robbins

Actually's timing couldn’t be better. Opening amid a storm of revelations about sexual assault in Hollywood and beyond, Anna Ziegler’s psychologically complex and intentionally frustrating two-person drama examines issues of sexual communication and consent. The setting in this case is Princeton University. Tom (Joshua Boone) is black, cocky, musically gifted and the first in his family to go to college; Amber (Alexandra Socha), middle class and Jewish, can’t decide whether her favorite book is The Iliad or Gone Girl. Both have endured family traumas, and both get caught up in the drunken, sexed-up maelstrom of freshman year.

Director Lileana Blain-Cruz and her two sharp actors infuse this talky piece with energy and urgency, and Ziegler’s meticulously detailed script is more than occasionally funny, despite its serious themes. As Amber and Tom unravel the knotty threads of their fateful interaction on an unadorned stage, our sympathies—whatever our political leanings may be—are repeatedly tested. Actually’s subject is politically charged, but its focus is squarely on the human beings behind the headlines, caught in a situation where nothing is black and white.

Manhattan Theatre Club (Off Broadway). By Anna Ziegler. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. With Joshua Boone, Alexandra Socha. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission. Through Dec 3.

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