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Your Best One

Whether staged as a sequel to The Luckiest People, or as a standalone, Meridith Friedman's tale, now running at Curious Theatre Company, is a compelling look at a high-functioning family, with many all-too-familiar dysfunctions sure to resonate with theatre audiences.

Lighting and Scenic Design by Chares Dean Packard
Lighting and Scenic Design by Chares Dean Packard
Photo: ColoradoDrama.com
 
Friedman, an experienced storyteller for television and theatre, jumps right into the action, with Richard (Erik Sandvold), a successful M.D., dropping in on his former lover, David (John Jurcheck), a marketing executive, and his 15-year old son, Josh (Colin Covert), whom David adopted following the split, which was, in part, engendered by the adoption.

Erik Sandvold as Richard and Karen Slack as Laura
Erik Sandvold as Richard
and Karen Slack as Laura
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Meanwhile, Richard's sister, Laura (Karen Slack), calls from her home in Shanghai, with news on her marital status, and to catch up on their dad's (Randy Moore) health and assisted living situation.

How many people get a second chance in a relationship? A few. Will any of these folks get that chance with those to whom they have fallen out? Friedman deftly explores the complexities of such questions and provides no easy answers, other than the one we all know and conveniently forget: love.

(Left to right) Colin Covert as Josh and John Jurcheck as David
(L to R) Colin Covert as Josh
and John Jurcheck as David
Photo: Michael Ensminger
We feel Richard's uncertainty and vulnerability in Sandvold's physical and emotional tension. He is used to calculating the odds of both his medical cases and personal relationships, but is up in the air on this gamble, and plays his cards close to his chest. It is David's emotional intelligence that unlocks Richard's intensions, with Jurcheck providing the heart that enables the catharsis for the couple and for us. Covert's Josh, as the wildcard in Richard and David's rapprochement, provides a series of tests for them, which play a key role in the dramatic arc, and offer some comic relief, as Covert's almost uncanny ;-) take on the brash teenager explores the boundaries an actor's vanity and self-centeredness.

Randy Moore as Oscar
Randy Moore as Oscar
Photo: Michael Ensminger
In this second installment of what will be a triptych of tales, the third such venture in serial storytelling by the company, Laura reminds us, in a more gentle way than in the initial play, that Oscar was hard on her, as the girl in the family. The result has been a lifelong conflict. In this time-sequence, Friedman never puts Lauren and Oscar in the same room, and yet deftly produces a catharsis here as well. Lauren's challenges in this part of the story induce a vulnerability that Slack tempers just below the surface, subtextually present, with occasional surfacings that eventually lead to a beautiful place shared with David and then Richard. And of course, we love Oscar, despite his cantankerousness and ethnocentric eccentricities, as Moore effortlessly draws us in.

Director Dee Covington and her design group create a fluid through-line of scenes and segues. Charles Dean Packard's set and lighting engenders four distinct staging area which cover over a half-dozen locations, whose fusion enables a few sublime cross-hatchings of space-time.

(Top to bottom) Erik Sandvold as Richard and John Jurcheck as David
(Top to bottom)
Erik Sandvold as Richard
and John Jurcheck as David
Photo: Michael Ensminger
If there is anything disturbing in this well-told production, it is the time-stamp of the characters' viewpoint toward western medicine, and what that says about their mindset, which dismisses any potential legitimate discussions outside of The Matrix; for example, the artifically weak arguments against chemotherapy offered by Laura. This becomes a straw man argument (logical fallacy) set up for the AMA and Big Pharma positions represented by Richard, which, in fact, are based on corporate science—that is, profit as the bottom line—not empirical reasoning and logic.

The absurdity of paying, say, $100,000 for an out-of-network specialist, who is going to use near-fatal doses of poison (with long-term deleterious effects) on David, to attempt to cure him of cancer, while profiteers suppress natural medicines that have a better track record, reinforces a power structure that induces other poisons in the air, water, and food, guided by their philosophy and strategy of eugenics.

Curious Theatre Company's presentation of Your Best One runs through June 10th. For tickets: https://www.curioustheatre.org.

Bob Bows



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