No wonder I don't do PR for the theatre - my sales pitches are terrible!
Over a Pinot Grigio, a huge pile of salted radishes (fantastic bar snack, btw) as well as some amazing fried zucchini at Ca Va - Todd English, I was trying to describe the play to the bartender and I managed to turn it into something that even I didn't really want to see! My plot summary had come from a scant few online reviews and half-assed attempts at 'official site' visits. I heard myself saying things like "nervous breakdown" and "legally blind" joined up with "romantic comedy", and the bartender wasn't convinced that the combo meshed all that well. I had to agree with her. And in the end, the one thing we BOTH agreed on was the most important thing. For me, this play was all about admiring The Topher.
When I bought my theatre ticket to the seriously wonderful production of LONELY, I'M NOT, I knew Topher Grace was playing the lead role. Yes I think he's good looking, fine. But I also think he's been in TV shows and movies where he seems kinda fun, you know. So I though, how bad can this be? Topher's leading lady is Olivia Thirlby, who you might remember as Juno's best friend. She was awesome in that; she was equally so in this. Theirs is a fantastic combination.
For 90 minutes we watched as former whizkid corporate genius Porter (Grace) fumbles through efforts to rebuild his life after a nervous breakdown and a spell in rehab leaves him jobless and - as a result, feeling worthless, rudderless, and with nothing to offer anyone. Through a mutual friend, Porter agrees to go on a blind date with Heather (Thirlby), who is - somewhat ironically - legally blind and 100% independent. She doesn't need Porter, she doesn't need anyone. Yet Heather finds Porter totally refreshing - someone who is honest (because he has no reason not to be), self-effacing (because 4 months of rehab will help you know yourself), and he lets Heather see him exactly as he is (because he's got nothing to lose).
One of the reviews I (half) read assured me that this play is a romantic comedy - and it really is, but not in the mushy way that so many often are. The characters are real. I knew what Porter meant when he was describing to Heather what his life was like at the top of his game. He had everything he'd ever wanted - a view from the top of the corporate ladder, working all the time, having lots of friends, making money, and yet feeling like it was all nothing - like an illusion, not something he could really hold onto. Heather doesn't understand him of course, but I did (and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people did too). And as the story rolls along, you want Porter and Heather to end up together - he needs to give a little, she needs to give a little - but if they did that, they'd be on! It would be fireworks.
When the play ended (and it did, rather abruptly for my taste) I wanted to go back to the bar and tell the bartender all about it. But people think you're weird when you do things like that, so I just took the subway home and thought about it to myself. My fried zucchini reprise will have to wait another day.