Emily White ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
A world premiere play by Ken Urban, A Future Perfect explores the issues of parenting and friendship in the post-baby-boomer generation. Current and smart, it places audiences up close and personal with issues extremely relevant to today’s political and social environment. In a time of allegorical Shakespeare, cutting-edge experimental plays, and large-scale musicals, it is refreshing and a bit shocking to come face-to-face with issues that are actually present in today’s life.
A Future Perfect is set during the Fall of 2011, a time politically characterized by Obama’s first term as president and the emergence of the Occupy Wall Street movement. At a time of relative dissatisfaction and disappointment throughout the country, two couples, Max and Claire, and Alex and Elena, struggle to create satisfaction in their own lives. Much a product of their own generation, they hold firmly to their liberal beliefs and their jaded realistic approach to life. They approach all of their important life decisions with sense rather than dreams. All four find themselves upon the precipice of no longer being young for the first time, and it tests the limits of their friendships and their marriages. When the subject of pregnancy and raising children is approached for the first time it changes their relationships forever.
Urban grew up alongside this generation who came of age in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. He also has a background as a musician, and the play is heavily guided by the musical influences of these eras, which are an important part of all of the characters’ lives, particularly Max, Claire, and Alex. Each scenic transition is done by the actors in full view of the audience and set to an iconic alternative rock song of that era, which conveys the sense that these characters really are aligned with this music in their inner psyche. The attitude of the music heavily influences the outlook and attitudes of the characters, in terms of political views, occupational views, and their views on family. The set, Max and Claire’s Brooklyn apartment, seems simple, but the music and the little details that decorate the house make it feel like a full home by the end of the show. Scenic designer Cristina Todesco makes the apartment seem an extension of the characters, much as our own houses feel in real life. Max and Claire take great care with the details of their conversations and life events and their home expresses this sentiment.
Subtle and sharp, A Future Perfect is a fresh new show for this generation of “grown-ups.” The actors all present visceral and exciting performances. The only caveat is that in its attention to detail, A Future Perfect may alienate audiences who don’t fit the ‘90s alternative scene and middle class way of life that so greatly informs the opinions and actions of the characters. But it is certainly interesting to take a step back and look at our own social history in the comfort of someone else’s home.