Years to the Day

Two men in their forties meet for a coffee to catch up after four years of not meeting up in person. They talk about what has been going on in their lives and reminisce about their shared pasts.

The two characters are written as political and ideological opposites, but Dan’s ignorance means the dialogue too often descends into debates of the most basic level.

The play is mired by a pompous script that has a nagging self-congratulatory tone throughout. The style of the dialogue sounds like it has been written by a twenty-something American hipster who has attended university, but whose cultural knowledge comes entirely from online blogs about popular culture and reddit forums. There is an excess of big words that don’t belong where they are placed, as if the writer (Allen Barton) is trying to pack in a lot of words to show off the vocabulary he has picked up. The constant swearing and the profanity-based neologisms are incredibly grating to the ear, even more so since they are written for characters in their forties.

Topics of the conversation range between broken marriages, the recently-divorced man coming out as gay, political debates about gay rights, liberalism, and the economy. The play opens with a ten-minute discussion about how overly widespread and invasive social media has become and how people don’t talk to each other face to face anymore, and the two men muse about the oddness of text messaging. All of this has been talked about ad nauseum in other places and the script adds nothing new.

The two characters are written as political and ideological opposites, but Dan’s ignorance means the dialogue too often descends into debates of the most basic level. There is a section near the beginning where the two characters talk about a movie they have both recently seen, but Dan’s character is too poorly written to come off as a 42-year-old. The way he plunges into a pseudo-intellectual, profanity-based rant is boring, reminiscent of angry teenagers who only know how to establish a personality by vulgarly hating things.

Jeff LeBeau and Michael Yavnieli both put on excellent performances and the acting is the one positive aspect of this play. Tellingly, their performances especially shine in the silences and pauses, when they are not hindered by the sheer verbosity of the script. Sadly, the poor text hinders them from giving life to this tedious play.

Reviews by Kyung Oh

Underbelly, Cowgate

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★★★★
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★★
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The Blurb

Written by Allen Barton, one of the most acclaimed plays in the 2013 Los Angeles theatre season. Using the spare construct of a single conversation between old friends, Years to the Day takes on marriage, social media, the delicate relationship between parents and kids, contemporary film, politics, gay rights and more in a searing confrontation between two men approaching middle age. Can their friendship survive ... friendship? Have their early 40s 'we're men now' maturity made them more certain of who they are in a good way? Or are they simply more calcified and inflexible?

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