Zosia Mamet and Matt Lauria meet ugly in “Really, Really,” a new play about amoral college kids that’s as nasty as the young men and women who populate it.
Paul Downs Colaizzo’s drama begins with two girls returning home after a night of drinking and debauchery that has left Leigh (Mamet, of the hit HBO series “Girls”) stumbling and incoherent and Grace (Lauren Culpepper) with a bloody hand.
The morning after, Grace begs for the scintillating details of Leigh’s night with Davis (Lauria, from “Friday Night Lights”), the sensitive hunk she’s had a crush on for years. Never mind that she’s in a committed relationship with Davis’s friend Jimmy (Evan Jonigkeit), who believes she’s pregnant and is ready to settle down.
In a crashing tempest of scenes, Leigh accuses Davis of rape, which even Grace finds hard to swallow. An element of revenge tragedy introduced in the final moments further muddies our perception of Leigh’s motives.
But her pile-up of lies undermines her credibility at every breathless turn of plot. And in their own way, the boys prove -- again and again -- what swine they are, in this portrait of a generation with low expectations and no moral compass.
Was there anyone I enjoyed spending a few hours with? No. Does that make “Really, Really” a really bad play, or merely deeply discomfiting? The unrelieved vulgarity and the manipulative plot twists have me leaning heavily toward the former.
My sympathies were further stymied by director David Cromer’s habit of deliberately frustrating the audience, as he did recently in “Tribes.” Here, I spent much of the first act staring at the back of a couch.
Still, the ensemble plays with all stops out, and Culpepper is particularly compelling as a cheerleader for Future Leaders of America -- despite the America growing darker and meaner all around her.
Through March 10 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St. Information: +1-212-352-3101; http://www.mcctheater.org. Rating: *1/2
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(Jeremy Gerard is the chief U.S. drama critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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