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Cititour.com Review
If you’re under 30, or work or play with people under 30, you probably know someone like Lauren, the heroine/anti-heroine of Lucy Teitler’s incisive comedy “Engagements,” now receiving its New York premiere as part of 2nd Stage Uptown at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. Taking place primarily at a series of swanky engagement parties (hence the title), the play is the latest evidence in the case by America’s young playwrights to paint the Millennials as this century’s “lost generation.”

In a performance as multi-faceted as a good Tiffany diamond, the excellent Ana Noguiera shows us all sides of Lauren, an outwardly bitchy, inwardly doubting, self-loathing, self-knowing, and self-destructive young woman. She’s a Victorian literature scholar, who nonetheless finds her life worthless without the affection of a man. (I’d be happy with her obviously gorgeous, two-bedroom apartment, designed by Wilson Chin.)

Unfortunately, the main man in question is Mark (a well-cast Michael Stahl-David), a blandly handsome obviously successful, and more-than-slightly sleazy Bostonian, who eventually becomes engaged to Lauren’s best friend Allison (Jennifer Kim, exuding almost-constant blissfulness). The pair actually spend only a few minutes having (off-stage) sex, and many minutes exchanging the kind of love-hate banter reserved for second-rate sitcoms and rom-coms; some of it is very funny, but who really thinks that quickly? Still, there can be little question that there’s more chemistry between these two than Mark and Allison. Which doesn’t mean their actions are justifiable, or even completely interesting for an entire 85-minute play, despite some very funny one-liners.

Teitler is smart enough to know that, and eventually introduces two other, seemingly minor characters: Lauren’s semi-naïve younger cousin Catherine (Brooke Weisman in a promising Off-Broadway debut) and her boyfriend Ryan (a very fine Omar Maskati), a fellow literature scholar, whose enmity for Lauren too quickly turns to amity. The playwright tries to make something about the differences in Lauren and Ryan’s fields of studies (he specializes in comparative literature), but it never quite comes together.

Director Kimberly Senior (who helmed “Disgraced” on Broadway) also tries to gussy up this obviously slight script when she can. The use of an onstage microphone for when the characters are speaking inner monologues ultimately feels forced, while having the cast dance such popular wedding dances as The Electric Slide between scenes manages not to get too tiresome. (Maskati’s dancing skills, by the way, appears well beyond his castmates!)

If you’re over 40 (and especially if you’re happily partnered like me), I think “Engagements” will most likely just make you grateful that you’re older and wiser than these characters; but it should also remind you the next time a whiny, moody 20something crosses your path, that no store sells the roadmap to being a true grown-up.
By Brian Scott Lipton

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Jennifer Kim, Omar Maskati, Ana Nogueira, Michael Stahl-David, Brooke Weisman

Open/Close Dates
Opening 8/5/2016
Closing 8/20/2016

Theatre Info
McGinn/Cazale Theatre
2162 Broadway (at 76th Street)
New York, NY 10024