“Your Best One” is Perfectly Alright at Capital Repertory Theatre
Capital Repertory Theatre is presenting the East Coast Premiere of “Your Best One” selected from its Next Act new play festival which happens every June. The playwright Meridith Friedman has dozens of development and production credits at theaters across the country. In the opening scene, we see Richard (James Lloyd Reynolds), an internist, back in the upscale kitchen of David (Michael McCorry Rose), his lover who he left seven years ago on the eve of their adopting a boy. The boy is now a 14-year-old sophomore Josh (Jake Goodman) who wants to be an actor. Richard has picked up clues from social media that all is not well with David’s health and makes the arduous trip out to see him. His worst fears are realized when David tells him that he has pancreatic cancer. Richard recommends a specialist in the area who is out of David’s network but secures a blank check from his father Oscar (Lenny Wolpe) who always liked David which causes great concern from Richard’s sister Laura (Kate Wetherhead). She is a lawyer in Hong Kong going through a divorce and is very concerned about how much money is coming out of their father’s estate with this extraordinary charitable gesture.
There are many, many Broadway credits in the resumes of these five enormously appealing performers and the only one without one, local theater wunderkind Jake Goodman, is on the countdown clock. They are playing lovely people who are managing as best they can to get through some of life’s challenges. There are off-hand, troubling moments like when we see a lie being told to the elderly or when an infidelity is rashly used in a social conversation to wound but for the most part, these are exceptionally nice people who care for one another and want the best for each other. You have questions about whether David will be ok or why Richard left in the first place and the play rewards your interest and attention to these five gifted individuals with charming, heartfelt stories like when David brought Josh to first grade and to avoid the tantrums that would happen with their separation at the beginning of the school day stayed in the boy’s class for days.
Michael McCorry Rose is very affecting in that monologue and powerfully good in his parenting skills. James Lloyd Reynolds is stalwart throughout and earns our sympathies through the course of the evening and we only want the best for him by the final scene, a tricky transition as the entire play is built around his return after an unexplained exit. Josh Goodman is as enormously appealing as ever and, if anything, is too poised to play a 15-year-old. He is also given the opportunity to sing “O What a Beautiful Morning” and we are all the better for it. Kate Wetherhead has perhaps the edgiest character but wins our love with her melting at the acknowledgment that her father had made her executor of his estate. Lenny Wolpe has a couple of cozy scenes in his apartment and is especially appealing reminiscing about Celeste Holm in “Oklahoma!” at the St. James Theatre. It is a great honor to have him on theREP’s stage.
There are many issues raised: comprehensive health care for all, elder care, gay families… among others but they are all presented glancingly and nothing is delved into with any depth or specificity. Many scenes sidle up to confrontations and threaten to get messy but they are quickly resolved and we are on to the next.
The physical production is very simple but still lives up to theREP’s very high standards. There is a kitchen island center stage with a large wall behind which takes on photographs of the kitchen, a hospital or airport waiting area as need be. That wall opens up revealing Oscar’s apartment on a platform when necessary. Set and projections are by Caite Hevner with lighting design by Rob Denton, Alejo Vietti has done the attractive and appropriate contemporary casual clothing. Gordon Greenberg returns to theREP as the director of this production and has given the evening a brisk, heartfelt performance that will charm you.
“Your Best One” does not quite live up to its title for theREP but it is a very entertaining sketch of a play told by consummate professionals that should spark conversation. We were told in the curtain speech by Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill that the play was chosen from hundreds by 25 readers who passed the play along a chain of eliminations in the Next Act process. Perhaps this selection by committee approach rewarded a play that could garner consensus. You can find out the first week in June when Next Act returns and argue for more singular, troubling and provocative voices…if that’s what you’re looking for in your theater.
Through February 9