BOTTOM LINE: A solid play about straight guys that both genders should find relatable and entertaining. See it now — it closes Sunday, May 18.
The Four of Us is the story of Ben (Gideon Banner) and Dave (Michael Esper), the former a novelist, the latter a playwright. Both are in their mid-20s and trying to get their professional lives in order. Friends from summer camp, they’ve gone through their formative years together, always there for one another to lean on. But the usual nature of things is disrupted when Ben gets a superlucrative book deal. Dave has to deal with his innate jealousy of Ben’s success and their subsequent drifting apart as their careers advance.
Like many other productions at Manhattan Theatre Club, The Four of Us is a new work by an emerging playwright, written about recognizable characters and set in the present day. The dialogue is reflective of two friends who are both expressive and self-aware — it’s witty, snarky, and touching, and, most importantly, it feels real.
The storytelling techniques in The Four of Us are utilized successfully, especially for a story that’s essentially about storytelling. Playwright Itamar Moses uses nonlinear narration, and as the scenes progress the audience learns more about why Ben and Dave are who they are and how their friendship propelled them to their current state of being. Banner and Esper are perfectly cast as two well-intentioned guys trying to navigate through the early part of adulthood; their professional lives are about written expression, and they’ve got a lot to say.
The Four of Us has been extended through May 18. Check it out while you still can. It’s the kind of story that could certainly live on a movie screen but is much more compelling when told onstage. It’s thought-provoking in all the right ways and an overall enjoyable experience.
The Four of Us plays off-Broadway at NY City Center’s Stage II, 131 W. 55th St., but only for a little while longer: Tue-Sat 7:30 PM, Wed, Sat, and Sun 2:30 PM. Tickets are normally $50, but use the following discount codes — 3792 (visit nycitycenter.org) or 4TAF (call 212-581-1212) — to get tickets for $30. The show runs 90 minutes without an intermission. Check out mtc-nyc.org for more info, and visit theatreiseasy.com for more NY theatre reviews and other useful information.