Currently at the Lyric Stage is a warm, quirky and increasingly electrifying meeting between four characters who hail from the same small town located somewhere outside of The Big Apple, but not quite close enough to visit.
Shani Farrell plays Patty Cooper and Katherine C. Shaver, her aunt, Luanne Cooper. We meet them seated at a work-table doing a menial job along with a third worker, Bari.
The three women are clipping labels from women’s clothing revealing that each garment was ‘Made in China’ so that buyers’ will feel good as they gift phony clothing to people they wish to impress.
As viewers, we could feel sorry for them, stuck in such paltry, dead-end jobs, but the two sisters possess some joie de vivre which is infectious.
Both young, buoyed by their youth and happy to be employed, they each have passionate interests they are busy sustaining: Luanne, her religion and her new boyfriend, an absorbing relationship partly divine, partly profane, which she carries on, vigorously, by cell-phone as she clips labels, or skips labels.
Patty is married, responsible, and happy to help Bari chart the course of a possible relationship, a blind date, by offering Bari expert advice on astrological compatibility.
This opening of the plot is a genre scene which must be happening everywhere in the global market of our world but the playwright Deborah Zoe Laufer’s sympathetic, knowing brushstrokes create specific, vividly affectingly vignettes.
The dark card in this scenario is the third character, Bari, who has lifted herself up by her small-town bootstraps to the heights of academia, i.e. a doctorate in Nihilist philosophy, complete except for the dissertation.
Bari, herself, though ambitious and learned, is equally ‘incomplete’. Unable to compete, without a dissertation, for a professorship, she is gaspingly, a ‘fish out of water’ in an otherwise convivial ‘puddle.’
Blazingly aware from her existential studies that “nothing matters” Bari is a truly star-crossed figure in an otherwise energetically happy small town milieu.
A blind date, also a former townie, looms. We audience want to see Bari succeed to a better place while still keeping her integrity as a nihilist.
Bari, played by, Samantha Richert, is fully convincing – though her dilemma can appear risible in a certain light hasn’t that light played before on the human condition — awkwardly dedicating us all to contradictory goals?
Just as convincing is the date, Mike Cooper, played by Barlow Adamson, whose fate, like Bari’s, is equally a riddle wrapped in a conundrum.
Will favorable stars save the day? Will small town bonhomie rescue two unlikely lovers?
The acting is sterling, the direction, by Courtney O’Connor, brisk, the setting, wisely minimal given the athleticism on stage, becomes in itself a presence not to be denied.
And the audience? Well, just “Be Here Now” — and see!
(Deborah Zoe Lauger’s “Be Here Now” directed by Courtney O’Connor continues through October 17 at Lyric Stage Company of Boston, 140 Clarendon St., Boston. For tickets or more information, call (617) 5850-5678 or visit lyricstage.com.)