Third

By Wendy Wasserstein

At Apple Tree Theatre
At Apple Tree Theatre

Directed by Sarah Gabel

At Apple Tree Theatre

Candid portrait of liberalism gone too far fuels Third

Wendy Wasserstein’s latest play, Third,  is a sort of repudiation of her earlier feminist plays. Third is her candid and outspoken drama about how as one’s life moves into middle age that one seems to become rigid and staunchly defends old beliefs despite evidence that the world may have changed.

Third tells the story of Laurie Jameson (Robin Lewis-Bedz), a middle aged college professor whose well-ordered life as a wife, mother and daughter is thrown into disarray when she accuses a student of plagiarism.  He is a stereotypical jock nicknamed “Third”(Michael Gonring in a breakout performance) who challenges the most liberal beliefs of both the student body and Laurie that jocks have intellectual acumen. By Third is much more than an athlete–he is a thinking, caring and most curious student.

Third
Third

Laurie accuses him of not being capable of writing such a profound paper on King Lear. We see that in challenging the student, Laurie is forced  to question her aggressively feminist ideology, her standards of fairness and her rigidity and smugness that she alone knows what is the truth. Wasserstein drive home her theme that all of us run the danger of becoming that very thing we have been battling against all our lives–prejudice and judgmental thinking. We become so narrow minded that we quickly put folks into neat little categories such as jocks can’t write thoughtful term papers.

Third is filled with sharp dialogue, crackling wit and a wryness that stings. This is a most engaging work get us thinking. Michael Gonring makes Third an empathetic, complex person who bravely defends himself and he accuses Laurie of harassment and reverse discrimination. We witness Laurie’s father going into dementia and he daughter questioning  her fanaticism.

Susan Felder, a Nancy, a fellow professor and Jim Farrel as the father contributed emotionally wrenching performances. the interplay between Robin Lewis-Bedz’s Laurie and Michael Gonring’s Third was riveting and honestly performed. Third is worth a look.

Recommended

Tom Williams