THIS IS OUR YOUTH by Kenneth Lonergan, directed by Woody Harrelson, with Marcello Cabezas, Katharine Isabelle and Jason Lewis. Presented by macIDeas at Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley). Runs to October 2, Monday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Thursday 1 pm and Saturday 2 pm. $25-$59.75, limited stu (Thursday matinee) and rush. 416-368-3110. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The latest incarnation of This Is Our Youth needs to mature.
Kenneth Lonergan 's look at the hedonistic 80s through the eyes of privileged kids is supposed to involve us first with the characters' drug- and sex-filled lives and then move us with their realization that it's time to grow up.
The immature, whiny Warren ( Marcello Cabezas ) has ripped off his father and taken refuge in the apartment of Dennis ( Jason Lewis ), a pal and low-level drug dealer to whom Warren owes money. Their finagling over how to return the money safely and still make a profit occupies much of the thin plot.
Adding to the complications is loser Warren's sexual interest in Jessica ( Katharine Isabelle ), who shows up as half of an arranged double date and might give the often shy man an ego boost.
But this trio, under director Woody Harrelson , evoke little laughter or sympathy from the audience. Cabezas, the one returning cast member from last year's show, has grown in the role and offers some touching, incisive moments. His tentative seduction scene with Isabelle, using first a fast dance and then a slow one, is the show's most fully realized episode.
Isabelle's work is also nicely nuanced, as she moves from a firm, back-off attitude to one that's more inviting. All the while, she never loses her self-protective stance.
Lewis's strength is visual and physical. He towers above Cabezas, effectively creating the older-younger-brother kind of relationship that drives the script; you believe that he tyrannizes the slighter man with regular noogies.
The actor relies too much on stock mannerisms, though, to define Dennis - glowering to show both indecisiveness and anger, foot-tapping to express anxiety.
His weakness is vocal, for most of his lines are mumbled and lost in the theatre space. His diction gets worse during Dennis's moments of agitation - including an emotionally climactic revelation scene - when Lewis speeds up his delivery, making much of what he says unintelligible.