Should we hold ourselves accountable for bad decisions we made when we were too young to understand the consequences? Featuring two solid performances in a play that toes the line between true-to-life and cliché, Anna Ziegler’s BFF, WET’s latest production, examines how a close friendship between two teenaged girls becomes the lynchpin in both their lives.
photo by Max Ruby
Reviewed by Ilena George
BFF tells two stories in parallel: the budding romance between the mysterious Lauren (Sasha Eden) and Seth (Jeremy Webb), is set against Lauren’s recollections of Eliza (Laura Heisler), her best friend from childhood, and the tragic and inexorable arc of the girls’ friendship. When Seth and Lauren first meet, Lauren introduces herself as Eliza, and from that moment Eliza’s fate is sealed. In flashbacks, we see Eliza’s slow, irrevocable downward spiral, contrasted with Lauren and Seth’s relationship taking flight, faltering, and ultimately recovering. Despite the play’s true-to-life qualities, the predictable outcome feels more tedious than satisfying.
Winning performances by Webb and Heisler distract from the story’s shortcomings. Webb’s Seth—who introduces himself by saying “I’m a banker. I mean, I work in a bank.”—has more than a few neuroses and an acute case of logorrhea but Webb charms rather than annoys. Heisler’s awkward Eliza, who is trying to grow up at her own pace, elicits strong sympathy for being unapologetically herself and paying the ultimate price for it. Witnessing the raw emotion that literally spills out of Heisler in the final scene of BFF is the most affecting moment in the play.
The play’s weakness lies in its foundation: the main character, Lauren (Sasha Eden), trying to fit in with the popular girls as a teenager and trying to find self-definition of any kind as an adult, lacks the vibrancy of the loudly vulnerable characters around her. The role itself is somewhat thankless; Lauren desires are those of the clichéd teenaged high school girl and her dialogue matches them. But Eden doesn’t make us like Lauren, or even love to hate her. She is in every scene but is the least fleshed-out of all the characters.
The set and music consistently work in concert to weave between the past and the present. The simple but effective music between scenes evokes nostalgia. Cleverly using projections and short videos as part of the set, the production makes the most of DR2’s relatively small space, bringing us to Lauren’s girlhood bedroom in the ‘80s, to a modern-day Manhattan coffee shop, to the side of a pool and beyond with a minimum of scene-changing acrobatics. This is an easy play to relate to: We are these characters or, at the very least, have known them. All three silently cry out to each other for help and are met with either silence or misunderstanding; a tragedy that only the audience fully witnesses and aches for.
BFF by Anna Ziegler
directed by Josh Hecht
A WET Production (Women's Expressive Theater)
DR2 (103 E. 15th Street)
February 17th-March 24th
Mondays through Saturdays at 8pm
Tickets (www.wetweb.com, 212.239.6200): $25-$35
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