I went to see Album at LaGuardia’s Black-Box theatre last Friday night. It was a simmering evening depicting the high-school years of four teen-aged men and women. The picture above was the set for a stunningly complete emotional depiction of adolescence.
Jocelyn Catasus was the supportive friend who knew too much without being a know it all. I wish I had had friends like her when I was in school. Her performance was alive without showiness; her Peggy was the teen in control who you could still see the insecurity in.
I knew “a Billy” like Aaron Berke’s Billy, but that was at Cambridge Friends’ School (where I went to repeat 6th grade). The patina of experience he spread on the basically insecure character covered like cream-cheese on a bagel.
Bridget Giuffrida’s Trish was the most teen. In her I saw my daughter. From the opening strip poker scene where she was self-consciously modest to the pure terror she showed looking around the cheap motel room after her character had run away with Boo, she was vulnerable in a way that totally supported the “Brian Wilson monologue.”
Christopher Diaz’s Boo reminded me of my own insecurities in Highschool (though I tried to embody a cross between the hockey shy player Bobby Orr and paisley-psychedelic George Clinton of Parliament-Funkadelic [oil and water: do not mix]). When he put on the horn-rimmed ray-bans and affected the tones and cadences of Bob Dylan I was back in the commune I grew up in in Boston with insecure and pretentious posers all around.
When the last scene came together at the Quarry and they had all reached the “biological-growing-up” they had so frantically sought throughout and receded to the Album of the title like a year-book of HS nostalgia I felt the bitter-sweet youth I lost so long ago trying to grow up too quickly. These young men and women brought four awkward years to life with this exceptional play and I think that having the writer as the director made this all the more special.
I went to see the play with my almost-in-high-school-daughter who had rehearsed with them one day because she was using a monologue form the play for her High-school auditions (applying to HS in NY is akin to applying to college in the rest of the country, but that is another story). The play-write and director, David Rimmer, had generously invited Chandler to come sit in with them one day at rehearsal. He said that she was really helpful because she was the age of the cast in the opening scene and brought a lot to the truth of the play (chronologically). Watching the play with my daughter made me aware of how important first love, biological and emotional, –so long lost to me– shapes the rest of our lives. I want to thank David Rimmer, Jocelyn Catasus, Bridgit Giuffrida, Aaron Berke and Christopher Diaz for bringing this all alive to me.