Directed by Adam Webster
At The Side Project, Chicago
Insightful writing, excellent staging and terrific acting make this two-hander a summer treat!
Mike and Seth by Daniel Talbott (Slipping) is a terrific playwright with a handle on crisp, often witty, dialogue that emotionally express the rage and the exasperation of two twenty-somethings. Set in Dallas at a ritzy hotel during a snowstorm, Mike (Derek Garza), a straight man on the eve of his wedding to his live-in girlfriend and his oldest childhood friend Seth (Michael Manocchio), a gay man about to breakup with his lover.
Mike and Seth have a life-long non-sexual love affair that finds them in a special relationship of trust that allows them to share their most intimate personal thoughts. As Mike is on a drinking binge the night before his wedding, he questions, cavorts, rage-on and bears his soul to the only person he totally trusts: Seth. Seth, in turn, expresses his worries and fears to Mike as the two have a chemistry that is truthfully played by Garza and Manocchio. This exchange comes from two trust-fund guys who have never had to worry about sustenance as privilege has been granted to each by birthright.
Much of this 75 minute drama involves the two expressing their angst about life. Both feel purposeless as each are dissatisfied with their lives. Mike worries that his life is all predestined for him: the lovely wife, beautiful children, loads of money, etc. etc. But is that what he really wants? He is not sure and that haunts him as the beers take their toll. Seth listens and adds stinging comments.
Seth then expresses his fears as he decides to leave his cheating lover. Over the course of the night and with consumption of beer, Mike and Seth talk, vent and release their pent-up rage at the world, their loneliness and fears. Field with humor, tenderness and empathy, the two mates articulate life’s conundrums, apprehensions toward the future, and their individual place in the world.
This is a smart, insightful, and riveting examination of a personal relationship featuring a gay-straight and privileged friends. We are totally engaged and impressed by the raw honesty and chemistry exhibited by Derek Garza and Michael Manocchio as Mike and Seth. The set (designed by Adam Webster) and the blocking/staging by director Adam Webster add depth and openness to our vicarious interloping into Mike and Seth’s banter. This experience is a most enjoyable and engrossing theatrical experience. Mike and Seth is one of the best plays of 2014 – don’t miss it!
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August 7, 2014
For more info checkout the Mike and Seth page at theatreinchicago.com
At The Side Project, 1439 W. Jarvis, Chicago, IL, call 773-340-0140, www.thesideproject.net, tickets $20, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 75 minutes without intermission, through August31, 2014