Updated: Jan 2, 2021
This week, Broadway's Best Shows presented an online production of Kenneth Lonergan's This is Our Youth, featuring a cast of up and coming young actors.
Lonergan's play, which premiered off-Broadway in the mid-90s, is a comedy-drama hybrid that follows the lives of three young people living in New York City's Upper West Side during the Reagan era, as they struggle to make connections with each other. Dennis (Paul Mescal) is a drug dealer living in an apartment paid for by his parents and seems to be constantly fighting with his unseen girlfriend. He begrudgingly allows Warren (Lucas Hedges) into his apartment, and he arrives with pot and a backpack full of cash that he stole from his father.
The pair argue over what to do with the cash, as Dennis suggests running off to France and returning the rest, or buying some more pot. Their plans change however, when Warren reveals his feelings for a girl that he met briefly with Dennis. As a result, Dennis goes off with his girlfriend in an attempt at repairing their relationship and Warren gets to know Jessica (Grace Van Patten). In an attempt to win her over, Warren uses some of his stolen wealth to spent the night with Jessica in a suite at The Plaza Hotel. The next day, all three of them face the repercussions of their actions from the night before and work to navigate the tricky waters of breakups, hook-ups, drugs, and death.
While Reagan politics and drug use of the 1980s may be the major axis which the plot revolves around, it has a sense of timelessness. Dennis, Warren, and Jessica are all struggling with their own issues that leave them practically unable to maintain a connection with each other, lost in their own world and the effects of the politics of the time. Yet the tension and the stress surrounding the characters feel as if it was plucked straight out of the current political climate, with stress and anxiety at all time highs. Lonergan's play, coupled with direction by Lila Neugebauer and fantastic performances by Mescal, Hedges, and Van Patten; show that no matter how much the world changes, there will always be issues one encounters in their youth. It's practically perfectly done, and it leaves you wondering what could be achieved if this cast could reunite on an actual stage.