THIS IS OUR YOUTH
Transitioning from adolescence into adulthood is not easy for anyone. This point is made abundantly clear in The SHSU Theatre Department’s production of “This is our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan, directed by Senior musical theatre major Nathan Wilson.
This dark comedy, taking place in the early ‘80s but having a striking resemblance to modern-day times, tells the story of three young people and their relationships with each other as they navigate the choppy waters of early adulthood.
Sophomore musical theatre major Jeremy Gee plays Dennis, a short-tempered drug dealer who seems to pay no mind to the feelings of his friends but, also seems to harbor a deep fear of sorts that could be traced back to a number of serious issues addressed throughout the play.
Gee gives an electric and fiery performance as a man who is in constant motion, physically and mentally, jumping from topic to topic. He displays himself as a clearly intelligent young man with a mathematical mind, yet lacks motivation and continues to sell drugs and loaf around his apartment.
While first impression is that Dennis is cold-hearted and unfeeling, there are brief moments in the play where the audience catches a glimpse of some kind of sympathy. Although it is quick and short-lived, the sense that this young man’s ambivalent and cruel demeanor is simply a shied he holds up for protection becomes apparent, especially towards the end of the show.
Sophomore theatre major Adonis Banuelos plays Warren, Dennis’ friend, a rebellious eighteen-year-old who has just stolen fifteen grand from his wealthy, business tycoon father as an act of pure defiance before coming to Dennis’ apartment at a loss for what to do with it.
Banuelos gives a wonderful portrayal of a confused and somewhat soft-spoken young man, desperate to escape the household in which he was raised but equally desperate to hold on to a certain degree of his innocence as this is made clear by the suitcase full of vintage toys that he carries around with him.
The pair of them sit around, smoke copious amounts of marijuana and make idle chatter about this and that, showcasing one of the real issues of the story, being that these young people are truly lost and have no concrete desires for their near future.
Also, popping in and out of scenes is Jessica, played by Junior musical theatre major Savannah Lee. Jessica is a spunky fashion student, highly opinionated and funny. Scenes between she and Warren are sweet and compelling as the audience sees Warren’s clear attraction to Jessica as they awkwardly but adorably flirt and discuss life.
Lee gives a dynamic performance as a girl who is both intrigued as well as confused by the feelings she has for Warren, just as unsure about her future as the guys, but determined to maintain a confident composure and display herself as a strong individual.
Of all the relatable and realistic emotions the audience sees the characters experience throughout the show, everything begins to wind down with their sudden realization that life is an absolutely fragile thing that can be taken away at any moment.
While what they have learned individually and as a group is not entirely clear at the end of the show, the audience is left with a feeling that these kids are going to be okay. They may be lost but what they are feeling is inevitable and one must experience pain and darkness in order to find light again.
Wilson has displayed true directorial talents putting together a show that however easy for college students to relate to is extremely complex and deeply emotional, which is no easy feat for any actor or director.
“This is our Youth” is a fantastic production that will open eyes as well as hearts, allow audiences to reminisce about their own coming of age obstacles as well as be a show that brings many important issues to the surface.
“’This is our Youth” opens tonight at 8 p.m. in the University Theatre Center with additional performances scheduled for Friday, November 20 and Saturday, November 21 at 8 p.m. To purchase tickets call the UTC box office at 936-294-1339.