In addition to August: Osage County, PJ and I saw three other plays while we were in NYC this month: Things We Want, The Seafarer, and Spring Awakening. Here is a brief review of each play.

Thnigs We Want We saw Things We Want on the first evening we were in NY. It’s playing at the Acorn Theater, part of The New Group, an Off-Broadway company. The play was written by Jonathan Marc Sherman, was directed by Ethan Hawke, and stars Peter Dinklage, Paul Dano, and Josh Hamilton.

The play is about three brothers. Dano plays the youngest brother, Charles, who has quit college and returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend. His older brothers still live in their parents’ apartment. Hamilton plays the oldest, Teddy, who works for a self-help guru. Dinklage plays Sty, an alcoholic. With Teddy gone on a business trip, Sty decides to set Charles up with a neighbor, Stella, played by Zoe Kazan. The first act introduces us to these four characters; act 2 picks up exactly one year later, showing us what’s become of them. Not to give too much away, but just about everyone’s fortune has changed over the course of the year. Thus, the play examines these brothers’ relationship as the dynamics of who is happy and who isn’t changes.

We soon learn that their parents’ each committed suicide by jumping out of one of the apartment’s windows. This window becomes a focal point of the play, as each brother at one point or another contemplates jumping out himself or the consequences of their parents’ deaths. Ultimately, the play forces its character to decide whether life is in fact worth living.

Another motif in the work is the guru’s system of prime numbers: 7-5-3-1, which stands for the 7 chakras, the 5 sense, the 3 words that sum up the 1 thing you most desire in life. Each character is faced with figuring out what that one thing is (even if the guru’s system turns out to be bogus).

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