Theatre Lab's “Be Here Now” is a ninety minute one act, bursting with ideas, as is the imaginative set on which it is staged.
Just 100 miles North of Manhattan lies a made up town called East Cooperville. You can guess its size because three of the four actors are Coopers, aunt, niece and cousin.
Elizabeth Dimon is Patty, 50ish, pink slash in white long stubbled hair. She's jolly. Her niece is Luanne Cooper (Gretchen Porro), 20ish also jolly. And given to taking selfies up her skirt and down her blouse.
They're jolly because they float through their days on happy pills. And in Luanne's case, Jesus rode a rainbow pony.
They work in the town's Fulfillment Center, wrapping packages of dubious tourist art for credulous buyers. Patty's been there longest and never screws up, Luanne about a year and always screws up, and the temporary help, Bari, (not a Cooper) played by Laura Turnbull, doesn't care if she screws up the packing. Or anything else in her life. She's a college prof teaching nihilism, on a break to finish her dissertation, due in a few days if she wants tenure. To call her miserable would be a joyous day in the park. But of course she does get headaches.
So being a nice woman who doesn't mind looking at the occasional penis pic, Patty sets Bari up with her cousin, Mike Cooper, played by Desmond Gallant. It's going to be a dinner date and of course Bari plays snarky. And Mike blows her off, her choice, he doesn't care one way or another. He'll just bicycle home to his life companion, a broken winged crow and spend the evening sorting his trash collection.
So Bari gets another headache, says she smells something, the lights flash paradise and she hits euphoria. Everything's just wonderful. Worry? Who? Me? Nah, never again. And Bari and Mike get it on bedwise. "Best sex I ever had," she says, clinging to him like a crazed face alien.
Some things just never last. Misery returns. Bari's headaches worsen. The plot continues.
The acting in this piece is extraordinary. Turnbull's and Gallant's long monologues are brief, shortened by the excellence. It's seldom one sees this level of intensity, of immersion.
And Dimon and Porro are not left behind in this cutting session. They're taking those pills for a reason.
Deborah Zoe Laufer wrote the terrific script and also directed flawlessly.
And the set? Designer Michael McClain delivered a masterpiece of adaptability. Right there with him is props master John Shamburger. Lights by Jayson Tomasheski with Matt Corey's sound and Dawn C. Shamburger's costumes are all the very best.