The character of Nick, at least, is more than he appears to be. Played with prickly charm by For the People’s Ben Rappaport, Nick exudes intelligence and empathy until he’s cornered. Then he’s all growling animalistic id — the perfect foil to Keren Lugo’s warm and sensitive Molly. In fact, Rappaport’s and Lugo’s work throughout the play brings out some of its best moments. They dart and skip, respectively, across the bright, exquisitely detailed set by Robin Vest, in their immaculately chosen wardrobes designed by Theresa Squire, until they have nowhere left to go but each other. Lugo, especially, is a standout for her ability to flesh out the sometimes too-subtle dialogue and heap on her own layers of charm. If anything, she and Rappaport are the most likeable. The other two characters in the play are a lawyer (Mairin Lee) and a Republican (Gabriel Sloyer).
Incidentally, as the dialogue of Actually, We’re F**ked moves snappily by, there are a few other opportunities for humor within the script that fly right on by. That’s less of a knock against director John Pasquin than a testament to playwright Williams, who peppers his meditations on the world’s problems with idiosyncratic fluff, cutting rhetoric, and some genuinely hilarious one-liners.
In between scenes, the play’s lighting (by Paul Miller) and sound (by M.L. Dogg) conspire to create a hallucinogenic, disorienting slideshow of animals and rotting metropolises — a reminder of the massively dysfunctional world in which the characters of Actually, We’re F**ked are potentially raising children. Mind you, the question of whether or not to raise a child in 2019, along with lengthy discussions about genitalia, is essential to this play. And the answer to that question, according to Actually, We’re F**ked, is much more lovely and hopeful than you might expect. So go see this show if you want a road map for emotionally processing the very f**ked America we live in right now — or very detailed and accurate instructions on how to break into a company server. That is something that appears in this play as well to quite amusing effect.
Actually, We’re F**ked (extended through April 21, 2019)
Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St, west of Seventh Avenue South, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.cherrylanetheatre.org
Running time: one hour and 30 minutes with no intermission