‘A Future Perfect’ Comes to Life at the BCA (4 Stars)

‘A Future Perfect’ – Written by Ken Urban; Directed by M. Bevan O’Gara; ¬†Presented by Speakeasy Stage Company at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, Boston, MA, through February 7.

 

Brooklynites Claire (Marianna Bassham) and Max (Brian Hastert) are a living a life that defies settling – Claire is an account executive at an advertising agency, and husband Max is a writer/puppeteer on a small but important project for PBS. When their good friend Alex (Nael Nacer) and his wife Elena (Chelsea Diehl) announce that they are going to have a baby, it throws a monkey wrench into their friendship as well as their marriage. The 90-minute action that follows is some sort of attempt for Claire and Max to regain their footing, not just with each other and their friends, but with themselves.

Playwright Ken Urban is very good at understanding and conveying power dynamics – and he gives the actors a lot to work with. There’s nothing like being the first woman in a group of friends to get pregnant – after my own pregnancy was outed during a party weekend in the Hamptons, I was pretty much ignored by everyone until it was time for the ferry three days later. Elena, whose shy insecurity and subsequent anger is played exceptionally well by Chelsea Diehl, delivers her announcement like a gift, only to have Claire claim that she can’t believe Elena would throw away her burgeoning career for a baby. Max reacts slightly better, but he too is concerned that Alex, a fellow musician, will no longer be able to play music and go to concerts.

Then there’s the dynamic between Claire and Max. Claire earns a lot more money than Max. A strong career woman, Claire prefers a dreamer like Max rather than an alpha male – at least with Max she has the upper hand. Yet she wants him to be more alpha and less caring in the bedroom. And Max, as with most men who can’t admit they’re not wearing the pants in their relationship, stiffly tells Alex that he and Claire make decisions together, after Alex calls Claire a “ball breaker”.

Cristina Todesco’s set is comfortable and hip; the actors inhabit it as if it were their real home. Nathan Leigh’s sound design is lifelike and urban – cars can be heard outside of the apartment building, a doorbell cuts through the tension jarringly. Watching ‘A Future Perfect’ made me feel like a voyeur, curious and sometimes uncomfortable. This is the second production I’ve seen directed by M. Bevin O’Gara (the first was the excellent ‘Translations’ at the same venue) and I have to say I am really impressed. She keeps the action moving in a way that feels authentic, not forced – you never get the feeling that you are watching actors being manipulated in a precious, stagey kind of way.

As the play crescendos towards its predictable finish, it loses a bit of its rhythm – too much of the action is unwieldy. But for anyone who’s thinking of having a baby, or has had a baby, or doesn’t want a baby but has friends who do, ‘A Future Perfect’ will give you something to think about. for more info, go to: http://www.speakeasystage.com/