Rajiv Joseph’s All This Intimacy was not well received when it opened in New York four years ago, especially compared to works such as Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, which made Joseph a Pulitzer Prize finalist.
However, for its West Coast premiere, directed by Caitlin McGarty at Renegade Theatre Experiment, All This Intimacy emerges as an enjoyable tragicomedy as well as a necessary story, reminding us that we all have the capacity to commit very big, life-altering blunders.
The play’s drama springs from a fateful mistake—or rather, three mistakes—made by Ty Greene (Keith C. Marshall), a teacher and successful poet. In a week’s time, he impregnates three women: his ex-girlfriend Jen (Xanadu Bruggers), his middle-aged neighbor Maureen (Michelle Bellaver) and his young student Becca (Sara Luna).
These women are strangers to one another, but they eventually meet; the circumstances are somewhat contrived, but it had to happen somehow. At any rate, they become extremely and understandably upset with Ty. The poet’s relationship with his best friend, Seth (Robert Campbell), who is engaged to marry Jen’s sister (Katie Vroom), is also strained.
Ty is a problematic character. He genuinely cares for the women in his life and wants to make things right with them, but his remarkable self-absorption and insensitivity prevent him from doing so. He’s so clueless that he makes even the ditzy Becca look profound when she tells him, “You can’t get three girls pregnant at the same time and expect them to like you.”
Marshall plays Ty well, managing to infuse the obviously flawed character with likeability. Marshall has great chemistry with the female cast members, and the scenes with Michelle Bellaver as Maureen are especially engaging. Maureen first appears as an average lapsed-Catholic housewife, but after conceiving, she turns into a near-crazy person who thinks the Holy Spirit is inside her. Bellaver makes the transition a believable one. Also worthy of note is a rather charming scene in which Ty and Jen pass sheets of paper back and forth in a silent conversation.
One final comment: for this production, Renegade Theater Experiment has eschewed the explicitly sperm-covered set design used in New York in favor of a more abstract backdrop. This is probably a wise decision.
All This Intimacy
Thursday-Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 7pm, through Nov. 26, at Renegade Theatre Experiment, Historic Hoover Theater, 1635 Park Ave., San Jose
Tickets are $28.50
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