By Robert W. Bethune
You have to hand it to The Man. That’s the name Neil LaBute gives him in “This Is How It Goes,” now in production by Theatre 1 at the Zeitgeist Gallery. No sooner does he arrive back in his old home town than he runs into The Woman, Belinda, his high school flame – he thinks – now married with two kids to a black man, Cody, who was the great track star of the old high school.
Cody and his wife are sick of each other. Whether he is violent and abusive, as The Man imagines, or just sunk into bitter jealousy, as The Man says she insists, this so-called marriage is a sinkhole.
LaBute writes from the point of view of The Man, who can’t tell where reality stops and imagination begins. Given his druthers, he’ll take imagination – even when his imagination isn’t very good, which is most of the time. He spends a third of the play soliloquizing to us, explaining what he doesn’t want to understand.
Stefan Mantyk’s The Man is a soft-headed egoist with a fat streak of white liberal bigotry, who sinks to a couple of N-bombs. He insists it isn’t his fault.
Mary Courie gives us The Woman as a kind suburban matron who never outgrew high school.
Sean Rodriguez’s Cody is a self-centered, controlling specialist in passive aggression.
The cast and Remi Esordi’s direction are good.
John Jakary, production designer, makes good use of the very limited possibilities of the Zeitgeist space. They give us what this play has to offer. The problem is the play itself. We are meant to try to figure out, a la “Rashomon,” where truth lies. But what is there in these people to make the effort worthwhile? If this is what passes for depth in today’s American playwriting, it’s a pretty shallow pool.
(FOR “REVIEW BOX”)
‘This Is How It Goes’
Theatre 1 at The Zeitgeist Performance Venue, 2661 Michigan Ave., Detroit. Fri.-Sun., through Dec. 2. Tickets: $15. For information: 313-965-9192 or http://www.zeitgeistdetroit.org