- Chief Los Angeles Theatre Critic
"Odd Man Out"
(Review does contain some spoilers)
Playwright Joshua Harmon explores how the dynamics of friendship changes when a significant other is introduced into the clique. It begins with the four lead characters getting liquored up at Kiki’s (Keilly McQuail, a gifted comedian) bachelorette party. McQuail’s lovable vapid, Valley Girl delivery is spot on. We learn Kiki was never looking for love, she just wanted someone to validate her. Kiki’s key in finding a husband was falling in love with herself, as she declares “I treat myself better than any man could treat me.” Splurging one evening at Jean-Georges restaurant, wah-lah she meets her husband-to-be Conrad (John Garet Stoker) and is the first of these college “besties” to get married.
Next we discover more about nebish Jordan Berman (Will Von Vogt) who is happy for Kiki, yet with his obsessive tendencies, is afraid to become the grown up who lives alone. He would like to find a man and get married, yet life is a big mystery for Jordan.
Curly haired Laura (Melanie Field) and Jordan are the closest friends. At Vanessa’s (Vella Lovell) wedding, Laura and Jordan hold one another during the first dance and declare that “weddings are not fun, they are disturbing.” They discuss having two children, a boy and a girl, yet it’s a fantasy that can never come true for this non-traditional couple.
White globe lights hang down above the first five rows of the audience. Whenever a scene changes, lighting designer Eric Southern switches the colors of these globe lights to aqua, pink and purple before fading to black.
The set by Scenic Designer Sibyl Wickersheimer opens with a simple low bench in the center. It’s transformed into a multitude of locations throughout the show, from inside the Museum of Modern Art displaying Henri Rousseau’s “The Dream”, to bachelorette parties, a work place, weddings and inside homes.
Sound designer Stowe Nelson plays an eclectic list of sappy wedding favorites including Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance,” and Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me.”
One of my favorite scenes is when Will (John Garet Stroker again) rises from a pool of water with just a bathing suit on, and Jordan creatively describes him as having “biceps with the slightest hint of muscle.” Jordan has a crush on Will, the new man in the office. He thinks he is “precious and deserves to be treated with tenderness.”
Also in the office is Evan (Preston Martin) with his obnoxious laugh and colorful attire. Costume designer (Bobby Frederick Tilley) had a great time selecting costumes for Evan, as well as wedding dresses for each girl.
Both Stoker and Martin are multi-layered playing three different characters, including all the husbands.
As the girls encourage Jordan to invite Will on a movie “date,” Jordan is giddy with excitement. Even though he feels the date went well, Will seems to be “meh” about it all. Jordan loses his patience waiting for Will and writes a way too long email professing his interest. While all the girls tell him not to send it, he does and regrets his decision the minute he presses send.
There are more bridal showers, bachelorette parties and weddings to attend as each of the girls finds their significant other.
Seeking advice from his beloved bubbe/grandmother Helene Berman (Concetta Tomei), we learn that all she wants for her grandson is to find his bashert “soul mate.” Sadly Jordan is almost 30 years old and no man has ever told him that he loves him.
When Jordan tells her that all his friends are pairing off and it feels as if they are dying, she tells him all her friends are dying too. Tired of being old, Helene says “Jordan don’t die young, but don’t get old, I feel so useless.” Each time they get together, they look over the same old photo album and reflect on the good ol’ days when life was less complicated.
Eventually, when Laura meets her significant other Tony, Jordan has had enough. At Laura’s bachelorette party, he unloads with a forceful and moving monologue about the emotional and financial cost attending all of the parties, showers and weddings.
In the end, during Laura’s wedding, the girls join their spouses during the first dance and Jordan stands alone. As a bright white light shines on him, he waves to the bride and the theatre goes black.
No one should go through life alone, especially a romantic dreamer like Jordan with a heart of gold.