Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Tom Zohar Hits It “Out” in Diversionary “Significant Other”


Being the third, fourth or fifth cog in the friendship wheel of friends, sucks. Not that Jordan Berman (Tom Zohar) is just anybody in Joshua Harmon’s “Significant Other”, now in a San Diego Premier at Diversionary through June 23rd.

No! He's Vanessa, Laura and Kiki’s best friend, but Laura is his BFF. The foursome work together like a quartet, in harmony. They did everything, including being one time roomies at one time.
Andrea Agosto, Tom Zohar, Megan Carmitchel and Jamie Criss
In the beginning, everyone was over the moon celebrating Kiki’s (Jamie Criss) up coming marriage. (“When I was looking, I never found anyone… and then I woke up one morning, and I was like, I’m a genius. I’m gorgeous. I’m amazing.”)

Then there was Vanessa’s (Andreá Agosto) wedding, and then there were two. But it was OK because Jordan had his bud, Laura (Megan Carmitchel)  “We should just marry each other.”

They even planned a family together in one of their moments of fantasy- gay guy marrying straight woman with turkey baster as the conduit. Funny? I know, but Jordan loved Laura about as deeply as any one could love another. In fact he was actually affronted, more like over the top, pissed when she didn’t ask him to be one her brides-mates at her now up-coming wedding. 
Tom Zohar and Brian Banville
And Jordan? He wants a significant other, but needy, neurotic and insecure, self- pitying and passive aggressive are not exactly qualities others are looking for in a date, let alone a permanent partner/significant other. (“I hate being a person. I wish I was a rock, you know? Or anything.  A Salamander. Dental floss. Rain.”)

His three buds counsel him on how to act/react to his sought after gay work buddy Will (Brian Banville), and they listen with bated breath as he describes watching the water trickle down Will’s body after a dip in the pool, or his going out of his way to find a World War II movie to take him to on a planned date, so he chose a movie about the Franco-Prussian War.  Will was reading a book on Pearl Harbor (Jordan’s choice was ‘kinda Pearl-Harbor-esque)

Next we see him with a box of size 12 forest green, Converse sneakers (he keeps in a box on his overly collectable’s shelves designed by Justin Humphries), the same one’s Will wore, so why not idolize a pair of forest green size 12 Converse?
Tom Zohar and Dagmar Krause Fields
Harmon, whose “Bad Jews” (I found offensive then, and still do) ran at Cygnet a few years ago, had Zohar playing one of the protagonists in that San Diego Premiere.

Zohar has been elevated in “Significant Other” to outperforming, in director Anthony Methvin’s already excellent cast by just staying power, as he gives a ‘tour de force’ performance especially in the second act when he really lets Laura know what’s on his mind about his not being in her wedding.

Let’s just say he was not very ingratiating or congratulatory. In fact Jordan goes on and on and on; nothing less than a spoiled child, thinking of only himself and his own feelings as he corners Laura about not being one of her brides maids. But that monologue is Zohar’s piece de resistance! No standing ovation, but extremely well recieved.
Tom Zohar and Wil Bethmann
While I have more than praises for Methvin’s direction, Zohar’s point on Jordan Berman’s ego -centric persona, Brian Banville’s (Will/Conrad/Tony) roles of male objectives, Wil Bethmann’s Zach/Evan/Tony in the other smaller male roles, Dagmar Krause Fields’ wonderful turn as Jordan’s supportive but lost in another century grandmother, and Jordan’s three significant and perfectly positioned girlfriends (also of the self -centered ME generation), the play itself didn’t tickle my funny bone as it did other’s on opening night.

Harmon’s 2015 “Significant Other” is too repetitive, bloated, wanna be funnier that it is,  talky and self-serving, somewhat dated with TMI confessions (K: “For a second I thought I just peed.”) and is in need of shortening, say about twenty minutes worth. As it was it drew many more laughs than it otherwise might have under different circumstance. No doubt, almost all in the audience come from different experiences than yours truly. 
Andrea Acosta, Tom Zohar
Some of the goings -on are, in fact funny as when the three dance in celebration (Katie Banville- movement coordinator) of and for each others’ good fortune, and the fast repartee of knowing someone well enough to pass judgment and well meaning criticism, or having a song-a-long to Céline Dion’s “Because You Love Me”, or the poignancy as when Jordan calls his besties to give them an update on his latest thoughts, and finds himself unable to reach anyone at home because they are out doing their thing, and he’s alone.

J: “I wish we still lived together.” L: “Grownups live alone.”  J: “We’re grownups, I forget that.” 

Can the same be said about single women living alone or choosing marriage and family over singlehood, or looking for her bestie or significant other or entering into the fray of the feminist movement? OH! I forget Wendy Wasserstein opened those door eons ago.
Megan Carmitchell and Tom Zohar
Oft times its hard to remember that long ago when one of my friends thoughtlessly reminded me, after I lost my husband, “It’s a couples world.” Some things never change, but in this changing world, it’s OK to be alone, if you like yourself. It’s also OK to have a significant other if it’s Bershet. 

Costume designer Elisa Benzoni’s period clothes and Melanie Chen Cole’s sound with ever changing the background look of Joel Britt’s lighting design gives “Significant Other” a fine way to end season 33 of the only ‘significant’ LGBTQ community theatre in the San Diego area.

See you at the theatre.


Dates: Through June 23rd
Organization: Diversionary Theatre
Phone: 619-220-0097
Production Type: Comedy
Where: 4545 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92116
Ticket Prices: Start at $15.00
Web: diversionary.org
Photo: Simpatika

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