‘Really Really’ explores amoral issues of youth in off-Broadway play

Evan Jonigkeit

Evan Jonigkeit and Zosia Mamet

Really Really puts the struggles of current twenty-somethings center stage in this intentionally gritty and ambiguous drama.  The play is set in the “here and now” of student life and examines the uncompromising reality of the “real life” that awaits the college students of the play.

The play reminds us that life is tough, ugly, and unfair. Best friends betray each other, expectations are rudely disappointed, and someone may or may not have been raped. The play itself is tough, a little ugly, does its best to preach about fairness in a world where morality is out and survival is in. Paul Downs Colaizzo, the writer behind Really Really, stated he feared the characters in Really Really would be too unlikable. Unlikable or not, the characters are hung out for the world to see, in all their undisguised and unapologetic glory.

Colaizzo wrote Really Really when he was just 21 years old. Now, at 27, he can see the unfolding impact of his own generation from a new perspective, that of a theater provocateur telling it like it is. His sense of brutal honesty makes for a wallop of a show, especially in the hands of Obie Award winning director David Cromer. Cromer’s deft handling of “in the moment” acting expression suits Colaizzo’s work well.

Zosia Mamet, from HBO’s Girls, and Matt Lauria, from NBC’s Parenthood, star as Leigh and Davis, two Ivy league students who find themselves at the middle of the passion, turmoil and controversy which shapes Really Really. Joining Mamet and Lauria are David Hull as Cooper, Evan Jonigkeit as Jimmy, Lauren Culpepper as Grace, Kobi Libii as Johnson and Aleque Reid as Haley.

Paul Downs Colaizzo brings to life a circle of friends and the webs they weave between life, love, and school, and the aftermath of one particularly debauched night of partying. The morning after brings new feelings and incidents to light, and the difference between what these characters thought happened and the ever more elusive truth of what did happen begins to unfold. It is this continuing dramatic revelation, and its uncompromising presentation, that give the show its punch.

The truth and emotion expressed in this play should go straight to the heart of its audience. Colaizzo set out to write a play which spoke to his generation, a demographic of theatre goers who were ignored in the theater more often than not. He wrote for the lost twenty-something-year -old adults who were just coming into their own and having to make it the hard way.

The play and its hard truths speak to more than just Colaizzo’s contemporaries. The cross-generational draw was evident at Signature Theatre in Virginia, where Really Really had its first run, and is still apparent at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, where it is playing through March 10th.

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