Carol’s Culture Corner Review of LATE COMPANY

Late Company, making its United States premiere at Theatre 40 in Beverly Hills, was written by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill. Tannahill was born May 19, 1988, and this play, one of his many, was written in 2013. In Canada, he is considered “the hottest name in Canadian Theatre” (Montreal Gazette). The subject of Late Company is relevant in today’s society.

The scene is the dining room in the home of Michael and Debora Shaun-Hastings (Grinnell Morris and Ann Hearn). The table is set for six as they await their dinner guests, Bill and Tamara Dermot (Todd Johnson and Jennifer Lynn Davis) and their son Curtis (Baker Chase Powell).

If there are only going to be five people for dinner, then why are there six place settings? We find out that the extra place setting is in memory of Joel, the gay son of Michael and Debora who committed suicide exactly a year ago after being bullied by a group of his peers at school. Curtis was part of that group. Michael and Debora invited the Dermots and their son Curtis to their home in order to try to bring this tragic event to a closure.

The Dermots arrive a little late, and the evening seems to begin a bit uneasy. As the two couples converse, Curtis appears to be on edge and uncomfortable, left out and trying to keep to himself. As the talks between the two couples continue, anger on both sides seems to evolve, while Curtis seems to be left on the outside until, suddenly, he tells about a nightmare that has haunted him ever since Joel’s death.

It becomes obvious that plans for closure will probably never happen between the Shaun-Hastings and the Dermots, and when the Dermots leave, the air is thicker than ever. But what of Curtis who seems to have been ignored through most of the entire episode? Only the ending can offer you an answer.

Baker Chase Powell filled me with compassion throughout his performance as Curtis. Grinnell Morris, Ann Hearn, Todd Johnson, and Jennifer Lynn Davis, bring reality to their characters, all under the direction of Bruce Gray. The lovely set is by Jeff G. Rack, Costume design by Michele Young, Lighting design by Ric Zimmerman, Sound design by Joseph “Sloe” Slawinski, and Produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40.