Perhaps you’re not one for reviews. Perhaps you’d rather just hear what the man on the street has to say than maneuver through an in-depth, point-by-point analysis of why We Used to Go Out is so hysterically brilliant. In that case, you need read no further than this succinct opinion overheard in the lobby of Theatre 99 as the boisterous audience milled out of last night’s show: “Dude, that was the funniest shit ever.”
We Used to Go Out is spot-on. You know it’s spot-on when the woman in front of you is snorting audibly and the man next to her won’t stop howling. Jessica St. Clair and Jason Mantzoukas may not be a couple in real life, but the same-name characters they play in this hour-long examination of a relationship on its last legs are so intrinsically convincing that you’ll leave kind of wishing they were — if only so you might be invited to one of their dinner parties. Not that you’d be able to pay any attention to your seared tuna steak, of course. Are you kidding? You’d be laughing too hard.
From the opening scene, featuring the imminent arrival of a lesbian couple Jason has persuaded Jessica to welcome into the bedroom — “but the apartment is a mess! Should I get snacks? What do lesbians eat before sex?” — to the hilarious post-breakup confrontation when Jessica, new date in tow, runs into Jason at a Valentine’s Day screening of The Notebook, the show is packed with witty, acerbic, and ridiculously perfect observations of 21st century relationships.
Though We Used to Go Out is far from improv comedy, the dialogue is so inherently real and natural that it might as well be. Conversation is suffused with slang, fights appear absolutely unscripted, and the juxtaposition of the well-meaning Jessica’s slightly hysterical shrillness with Jason’s lackadaisical sheepishness is immediately recognizable to anyone who remembers the painful tail-end of a partnership. Or, indeed, the middle of one.
Particularly memorable is the locker room scene, in which Mantzoukas is clad in a bobbed wig to play the part of Jessica’s ditzy, bitchy, oh-my-god-like-totally best friend Peggy, who once sent out save-the-date cards for a wedding before her boyfriend had even proposed. Later he dons a backwards baseball cap and becomes knucklehead stoner Scooter, the blind date Jessica found on the Internet, who takes her back to his windowless storage room apartment, tells her stories of incinerating kittens — “it totally made me crave kebabs, like, all day” — and blunderingly attempts to get her into bed with lines like “Jessica! Look at the time! It’s no-shirt-o’-clock!”
Go see We Used to Go Out. Maybe don’t go see it with your parents — unless, of course, you’re okay with sitting next to your mother while oral sex is mimed on stage — but go see it all the same. You’ll leave just a little bit in love with both St. Clair and Mantzoukas, and not just because the latter does a whole scene with his shirt off. It helps, of course, but you’re better off going for the humor.
Piccolo Fringe at Theatre 99 • Comedy • We Used to Go Out • June 2 at 5 p.m., June 3 at 6 p.m. • $15 • Theatre 99 • 280 Meeting St. • 554-6060
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