By DON FOWLER
It is hard to believe that the playwright who gave us the low-key Oscar-winning “Manchester by the Sea” also wrote the gritty, raw “This Is Our Youth,” now on stage at Burbage Theatre. While the play is set in 1982, the three young characters are as rebellious and disillusioned as many 19-21-year-olds are today.
The two-act play opens with Dennis (James Lucey) lying on his bed in his unkempt apartment, staring into space. Dennis survives by selling pot to his friends. Warren (Brooks Shatraw) arrives, carrying a large suitcase and a backpack full of money. He has robbed his abusive father and is in a frenzied state. There is a lot of patter between the two, as Dennis verbally abuses and puts down his so-called best friend, who allows himself to be degraded.
Jessica (Cassidy McCartan) shows up, while Dennis goes off to score drugs and later sell Warren’s “valuables.” While Jessica and Warren are complete opposites and disagree on everything, they have a one-night stand.
Act 2 takes place the morning after, as the three characters try to sort out their lives, which have been filled right up to the moment with some very bad decisions. There are hints as to how things got so bad and in the end a question as to whether they can change and enter the world of responsible adulthood.
“This Is Our Youth” is an in-your-face, up-close and personal play that may disturb you at times as you witness the futility, vulnerability and self-destructiveness of the characters. Older adults may get turned off by their words and actions, while younger folks will certainly relate to much of what is going on.
At Burbage Theatre, 249 Roosevelt Avenue, Pawtucket, through February 24, alternating with “Thom Pain.”
Go on line at www.burbagetheare.org for dates, times and reservations.