The latest production by the Grand Rapids Community College Players, “This Is Our Youth” by Kenneth Lonergan, premiered last night at Spectrum Theater in an intimate sized room with a full audience.
The show is set in 1982 New York at Dennis Ziegler’s (played by GRCC student Anthony Snead) less-than-lavish apartment. A bed sits in the corner, a dining table in the middle of the room, “Star Wars” and Pink Floyd posters adorn the walls along with old photos of Dennis Ziegler and friends. On the shelves along the wall are old take-out containers, a record/cassette player, speakers and other knick-knacks.
Action ensues when Dennis’s friend Warren Straub (played by GRCC student David Dekens) enters the apartment with a suitcase, a backpack full of his father’s money and a half-thought-out plan. With his newfound money, Warren pays Dennis an old debt. Dennis wants nothing to do with Warren’s bag of money or his problems, but is happy to accept Warren’s payment. Dennis talks Warren out of his plan to run away and pushes him to return the bag of money – but not without turning a profit first.
Warren wants to have some fun before his runaway weekend is over. He is a tightly wound guy with a crush on fashion student, Jessica Goldman (played by GRCC student Hope Swanson).
Jessica is reluctant at first to spend time with Warren, but finds his love of old toys charming. Slowly she warms up to Warren, and Warren is delighted. He decides to give Jessica a night neither of them will soon forget – a night at the Plaza Hotel – digging himself a deeper hole by spending more of the money he has to return.
The play emphasizes how one decision leads to another, and not all of them are necessarily the right ones. At the end, the characters are still trying to figure out their next steps to take in life, but the last 48 hours they spent together were life-changing.
Director, Carrie McNulty, is an adjunct faculty member at GRCC and Aquinas College. McNulty explained how this play is about how “good people sometimes do bad things” and all of the emotions we go through, and at times we, especially young adults, don’t know how to deal with them.
After the play, Snead said it felt like he just went through a “emotional marathon.” This is Snead’s seventh play in total and his third with the GRCC players.
Performances of “This Is Our Youth” are scheduled for 8 p.m. tonight and tomorrow, Jan. 13, at Spectrum Theater.
The Collegiate reporter Heather Tilma contributed to this story.