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Theater Review: Significant Other

Matthew Bizoe in "Significant Other" at the Ghostlight Theatre, Benton Harbor
Lauren Mow
Ghostlight Theatre
Matthew Bizoe in "Significant Other" at the GhostLight Theatre, Benton Harbor

The GhostLight Theaterin Benton Harbor recently opened their production of Significant Otherwhich runs through June 19. WMUK’s Gordon Bolar has this review.

Playwright Joshua Harmon’s smart and sassy comedy offers many insights about a young gay man and his relationship with three brides to be. Last Thursday, Director Les Rorick’s well-paced, very funny production brought Harmon’s vibrant script to life on the GhostLight stage before an appreciative opening night audience.

The play’s central character, Jordan Berman, finds himself at a crossroads in his late twenties. Not only does true meaningful romance with other gay men elude him, he sees his three female BFF’s slipping away, one by one, into a marriage that will alter Jordan’s relationship with each.

Even worse, Jordan is expected to participate in and endure the obligatory three phased ritual accompanying the matrimonial bonds for each of these women: the bridal shower, the bachelorette party and the wedding itself.

This production succeeds for several reasons. First is actor Matthew Bizoe’s strong and nuanced performance as Jordan. Bizoe possess all of the vocal and physical tools necessary to generate and hold emotional interest in Harmon’s lead character for the show’s two-hour plus duration.

Bizoe is able to sustain extended, animated, rapid-fire phone narratives as Jordan’s mind shifts rapidly among thoughts and relationships. Here audience attention and focus are greatly assisted by director Rorick’s seamless transitions and Paul Stortz’s fluid lighting.

Bizoe’s portrayal of Jordan goes much deeper than the neurotic and obsessive comic figure who fights with his hand, “Evil Dead” style, in a failed attempt to prevent the appendage from hitting the “send” button, delivering a message to a heretofore secret male love interest.

In a gut-wrenching confrontation with the soon-to-be wed Laura, played by Madison Mosher, Bizoe’s character shifts gears as he confronts the loss of his most meaningful friendship and the possibility of a life alone.

Madison Mosher, Laura Martin and Matthew Bizoe in "Significant Other"
Lauren Mow
Ghostlight Theatre
Madison Mosher, Laura Martin and Matthew Bizoe in "Significant Other"

One of this production’s most appealing features is the charming and frequently hilarious rendering of Jordan’s three distinctly different foible ridden female friends.

Terra Lenox, as Kiki, displays a self-obsessed, and frequently tipsy young woman who is alwaysthe life of the party and at the center of attention. Lenox’s vivacious character, relegates her gal pals, her gay guy pal, and her future husband, to supporting roles in a rambling wreck of a life that stars none other than Kiki.

In quiet contrast, the character of Vanessa, played by Laura Martin, smiles to herself as she tolerates the chaos around her, waiting to catch her future husband at Kiki’s wedding, as oblivious friends look the other way.

Madison Mosher’s Laura presents a convincing life line for Jordan, gently reigning in decisions that threaten to derail his life. Mosher’s steady performance underscores the stakes for Jordanand sets up the transformation that she challenges him to make, as she joins the ranks of his married friends.

Also effective is Carol Sizer, as the grandmother who reminds Jordan that life is a long book with many chapters.

In the play’s final scene, Bizoe’s character, alone onstage, silently watches Laura and groom as the Happy Couple is called to the floor for a wedding dance. Laura’s challenge and grandmother’s reminder are clearly realized in this carefully-crafted closing moment of offstage focus. Jordan’s face and body reflect the welcome change that has transpired: he is finally able to take joy from the happiness of others.

Gordon Bolar was WMUK's General Manager from 2011 to 2016. He joined the station in 2006 as Development Director. After retiring as General Manager, Gordon has continued to review theater for WMUK.
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