Lord, Don’t They Help Themselves?

A night of drunken revelries on the eve of midterms finds Leigh (Zosia Mamet) in bed with Davis (Matt Lauria) while her boyfriend, Jimmy (Evan Jonigkeit), is out of town.  Leigh cries rape—and Davis, who blacked out, can’t remember—though both Leigh’s best friend, the closeted lesbian Grace (Lauren Culpepper), and Davis’ roommate, Cooper (David Hull), don’t believe her.  Meanwhile, Johnson (Kobi Libii), a friend of the guys, backs away from the incident to avoid being associated with the crime.

There is something of the Duke lacrosse case in Really Really, Paul Downs Colaizzo’s play about class, gender, and power in contemporary college life, best personified by Cooper, a perennial student who is not enrolled in any classes and rarely finds the time to put on a shirt.  These are the kind of kids who pass because their daddy knows the dean, who have salaried jobs lined up after graduation (whenever that may come), and who bond through homophobic, homoerotic interactions.  This is Davis to Johnson: “What the fuck is wrong with you, man?  You leave our party—our once-a-year, tunnel of love—to get a good night’s sleep, and then you bring your tiny dick over to my house to play your outdated, tiny dick videogames?”  Charming.

But as with Duke, things are not so cut and dry.  Just because Davis is rich does not mean he raped Leigh, and Mr. Colaizzo’s play quickly shifts from dorm comedy to revenge fantasy, with the girl who was not born into wealth manipulating a patriarchal system to take down the cozy and the entitled.  This could be an interesting premise, but it plays more like second-rate LaBute, who himself is just a second-rate Mamet.  In the final showdown, Davis will say, “I see nothing but a loser.  Now and forever.  Trash,” while Leigh replies, “I see possibility.  Solutions.  Power.”  This is the kind of laughably transparent dialogue you would expect from an angst-ridden teenager.  There is nothing to indicate that Mr. Colaizzo cares about his characters—no love, no irony—only a juvenile, unattractive cynicism.

Admittedly, he has been blessed with an outstanding cast.  Ms. Mamet has an opaque, clinical demeanor that indicates an intelligence and a viciousness to Leigh not explored in the script, and it is a blast to watch Mr. Hull treat his gorgeous apartment, his campus, and his friends like a private circus.  If only they had been given a text that could put their talents to greater use.

Really Really runs through March 30th at the Lucille Lortel Theater.  121 Christopher Street  New York, NY.  2 hours.  One intermission.

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Aaron Botwick

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