A Utah Theater Review by Jennifer Mustoe
Years ago, I saw Sam Shepard’s Buried Child. I liked it, but I didn’t get it. I knew I was seeing something important, but it disturbed me, too.
Such was the case last night when I saw Jared Greathhouse’s Who Are You? I will say now, I laughed a lot, and a show that makes me laugh is worth recommending. However, if you’re expecting to “get” this show, if you’re expecting some kind of happy ending, you may need to skip this one.
The play has everyone in pajamas the whole time. It starts with two people. Jerry, amazingly played by Nate Keyvani, and Tiffany Greathouse who plays his wife Stephanie. We see them get up, and because of a series of blocking and costume issues, the two, while talking intimately as couples do, don’t look at each other. When Stephanie finally looks at Jerry, she freaks out, screaming, cursing, going through her side table and finding a tampon, (one of many we’ll see), a banana (again, we see a lot of them) and then a hammer, which she takes to Jerry with bodily harm for him on her mind. Jerry doesn’t get what is going on. I admit, I’m a little baffled myself.
At this point, my logical mind was thinking, okay, does she have amnesia? Is he a stalker? But soon, he starts saying things that only Jerry would know. And I became confused. Which was fine. It was actually the humorous kind of confused.
Stephanie begins to calm down and even accepts that Jerry is who he says he is. She gets sick, he surmises she is pregnant and she runs to the bathroom to throw up. Jerry looks in the mirror and he doesn’t even recognize himself so he understands why Stephanie was freaking out.
That is when the new, very pregnant Stephanie comes out. When I say new, I don’t mean that she quickly stuffed a pillow into her pajama top. I mean it is a different actress, Elise C. Hanson. Okay, now I’m really confused. The two women start saying the same lines as in the first scene, often in unison. I am beginning to realize that I am not going to completely understand this play.
The show is so difficult for me to describe, I’m going to list some of the aspects of it. I don’t want to give too much away, but even if I put this in paragraph form, it’d still be confusing. So, for all our sakes, I’m giving you a list.
- Stephanie and Jerry come in and out of the play with four different actors a piece. They are at different stages of their lives, so it may or may not be about their progression. Especially since it wasn’t in chronological order. But it was the same person. Sort of.
- There was a lot of in unison talking when several Jerrys and Stephanies are onstage. I actually loved this device. It was powerful, effective, hard to do well, thus, impressive.
- Two of the Jerry’s speak in unison in Spanish. I don’t know why they do this, but because I speak Spanish, I understood what they said, so the transition was, for me, super fun.
- There are two offstage male voices. One makes cracks about Jerry’s writing (he’s writing a play) and many of those comments, all derogatory, were inside jokes that the actors, directors and other theater folk in the audience understood and laughed at. The other voice just called Jerry an idiot. These other voices made me wonder if Jerry may or may not be schizophrenic.
- Bananas abound. My friend who came with me said they were a phallic symbol. (There is a fair amount of discussion about sex in this play.) For me, the bananas brought in some color in a rather monochromatic color scheme.
- Hammers, too, are very prevalent in the play. One comment that was said regularly was: “Ooh, shiny.” It brought a laugh every time.
In discussing this play with friends, several asked if it was a dream, and the answer is, yes it was, but then Jerry woke up and the chaos still kept going. So I don’t think the whole thing was a dream. But maybe I’m wrong.
Here’s what I will say:
- All the actors did a great job. They were: The Jerry’s: Nate Keyvani (who was my favorite–his screaming that he doesn’t have a bad temper really got to me), Joel Pepino, Christopher Stephenson, Andy Maizner; The Stephanie’s: Tiffany A. Greathouse, Elise C. Hanson, Victoria Gonzales, and Michele Rideout.
- If you’ve never been to the theater before, Mapquest it and really study the map. I got lost on the way.
- If you like avant garde shows that you’re okay only interpreting but not necessarily understanding, this is for you.
- This show is not for kids or even teenagers as it has a lot of profanity, smoking onstage (ick), and sexual references. I would have appreciated more of this info on the Facebook event page – a disclaimer of some kind.
- I loved the Who’s “Who are You?” playing for scene changes.
- Though there were a few line flubs, for the most part, this was a tight performance.
- This had to be an interesting show from a director’s standpoint and playwright/director Jared Greathouse did a great job.
I’ve been trying to think who I would recommend this show to. Frankly, it was so different, I’d have to say anybody who wants something to entertain you, cause you to think, free you from trying to logically figure out what is happening and just take it at face value, or will make you keep trying to figure it out 24 hours later (like I’m doing), I suggest you go. It’s a fun, interesting, slightly disturbing piece. I mean that in a good way.