Charting a seemingly average weekend night from start to finish, Sun and Room follows Leah, a young, cute student and aspiring actress, as she attempts to throw her first and last college party before transferring from her local Colorado state school to a university in San Francisco. None of the anticipated guests show up save for Leah’s classmates Zoë, a party girl with no filter, and Matt, an introverted sweetheart with sexual hangups. As the trio ingests copious amounts of alcohol and pizza, they reveal their deepest inner feelings and frustrations. The party gets predictably messy, but by sunrise, they are all best friends.
The text of Sun and Room is both a semi-autobiographical collaborative effort of ostensibly real-life friends Leah Brewer, Zoë Pike and Matthew Socci and also a mostly solid showing by playwright Danny Mitarotondo. In an attempt to realistically depict a sloppy college night, he forgoes a few structural elements required of a consistently compelling play. Concrete character development, recognizable plot arcs, and engaging storylines come in short supply; however, the play’s heart beats steadily regardless. The team does well to imbue the text with relatable, emotional situations strong enough to touch any audience member with a bit of embarrassed nostalgia.
Sun and Room’s director Shannon Fillion is similarly interested in theatrical realism, occasionally to her production’s detriment. By incorporating working Apple devices, real laundry appliances, and even the smell of detergent, she is able to stage a remarkably lifelike night of innocent debauchery around production designer Alicia Laws’ convincing basement set. Conversely, Fillion’s inclusion of full-song jam sessions, silent clothing folding sequences, and other moments of rest detracts from the play’s overall digestibility. While such scenes are no doubt realistic depictions of life, they are also too mundane to demand an audience’s attention. In one instance, the smell of delicious pizza becomes more compelling than the dialogue.
Supplementing the production with healthy doses of youth and charm is the ensemble cast of three actors, each one playing a stylized version of themselves. While Leah is a wounded, old soul with secrets, Zoë is a loose cannon ready to pounce on any man (or reasonable facsimile thereof) who enters the room. Together, their more assured presences balance out the neurotic energy of Matt, whose brand of awkward dangerously tows the line between endearing and uncomfortable.
The reasons we enjoy those nights in the moment are the same reasons we generally choose not to bring them up ever again. Appropriately, Sun and Room teeters between a fun party and a miserable gathering, asking us to recall all of the stupid, ridiculous, and even depressing things we have done in the company of friends and under the influence of alcohol. We’ve all had those nights. And, generally speaking, we’re all happy to forget them.
Sun and Room (through February 21, 2015)
Brontosaurus Haircut Productions
Paradise Factory, Main Theater, at 64 East 4th Street, between the Bowery and Second Avenue, in Manhattan
For tickets, call 510-851-4865 or visit http://www.brontosaurushaircut.com/productions/
Running time: One hour and 40 minutes with no intermission