You Got Older: In brief
A woman's life unravels unexpectedly in a new dark comedy by Clare Barron, directed by the excellent Anne Kauffman (Belleville) for Page 73. The cast includes Brooke Bloom, Reed Birney and William Jackson Harper.
You Got Older: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Clare Barron’s extraordinary You Got Older moved me as few new plays have. As a critic, I can usually shake things off fast—it’s a coping mechanism—but for some time after the play’s wrenching finale, I found myself literally shaking. This reaction took me by surprise; although the story is about a lost young woman named Mae (a terrific Bloom) whose aging father (Birney, masterfully gentle) is being treated for cancer, it unfurls mostly in the mode of weird, funny character comedy, with detours into gnarly and frustrated horniness. But whether Mae tries to escape into banality (small talk, smaller tasks) or fantasy (a taciturn cowboy “obliterating” her, or holding her, or both), time’s one-way arrow keeps piercing through.
“I’m always itching to go do something else even when I’m in the middle of having a nice moment,” confesses Mae’s father, and that is the play’s deep rub. You Got Older beautifully captures elusive things about avoidance: It’s about the denial of death, but also the denial of living. Like a great short story, it succeeds through details that, under Anne Kauffman’s impeccable direction, coalesce with a force all the stronger for their subtlety. The instants of real connection that poke through the characters’ guilt and distraction and self-consciousness are, like theater, fleeting. But there are moments in this play that I know I won’t forget.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE A bittersweet slice of life to be savored.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam