Un-romantic comedy 'This' opens April 26 at Dobama

Dobama Theatre will wrap up its 2018–19 mainstage season with the regional premiere of “This” by Melissa James Gibson, running April 26 through May 26.

Directed by Nathan Motta, Dobama’s artistic director, “This” is a smart, witty, un-romantic comedy that captures the uncertain steps of a circle of friends who are backing their way into middle age. Jane is a promising poet without a muse and a single mother without lessons to pass along. With her dating life in shambles, she goes to a friend’s dinner party where she’s set up with a handsome French doctor. But after the meal and a few glasses of wine, a party game goes wrong and everything in her life becomes more complicated.

The New York Times called “This” a "beautifully conceived, confidently executed and wholly accessible work,” and described “confused but lovable characters . . . drawn with a fine focus and a piercing emotional depth.”

Playwright Gibson has won numerous awards for her work, including an Obie award, the Whiting award, and the Steinberg Playwright award. Of her 12 published plays, two have premiered at Playwrights Horizons and two are commissions of Steppenwolf Theatre. Her work has also premiered at Soho Repertory, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, Vancouver Playhouse, Atlantic Theatre Company, and Philadelphia Fringe Festival. This is her ninth full-length play.

“This” premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 2009. During its residence, it was so popular that it received a three-week extended run. It has since been produced in theaters across North America.

“This” occupies a complicated spot in the canon of romantic comedies, inhabiting the painful space between love and betrayal, humor and tragedy. The characters are painfully real; each one is grappling with the difficulty of sudden loss and the changes that come with aging. "This" could easily fall into unremitting cynicism, but it cuts the pain of its characters with sharply witty dialogue and an unwaveringly honest glimpse at the idiosyncrasies of its central group of friends. “This” is unflinching in both its exploration of our tendency to self-destruct and the ways in which we disguise and excuse our personal failings.

Dobama’s cast features Abraham Adams, Kieron Cindric, Craig Joseph, Rachel Lee Kolis and Treva Offutt.

Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

Ticket prices are $29 to $35, with senior, student and military discounts available. Tickets are available at the box office (216-932-3396), or online at www.dobama.org.

In an effort to remove economic barriers and make Dobama’s productions accessible to everyone, on the first Sunday of every production Dobama offers a 7:30 p.m. pay-what-you-can performance. For “This,” that date is Sunday, April 28.

Julie Friedman

Casey Venema is a directing intern at Dobama Theatre.

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Volume 12, Issue 4, Posted 12:59 PM, 04.01.2019