Accessibly Live Off-Line Review of LATE COMPANY

Theatre 40 of Beverly Hills presents the American premier of Jordan Tannahill’s LATE COMPANY, a drama where two couples meet along with their teenaged son over dinner, arraigning a closure between them all with the attempt to receive an emotional healing.

Grinnell Morris and Ann Hearn play Michael and Debora Shaun-Hastings. Michael is a regional politician while Debora is a sculpture artist. They have invited Tamara and Bill Dermot (Jennifer Lynn Davis and Todd Johnson) along with their sixteen year old son Curtis (Baker Chase Powell) for dinner at their home located in a well-to-do neighborhood. This dinner party isn’t really a gathering of friends. In fact, Michael and Debora don’t really know the Dermots too well. Their only connection is the notion that Curtis attended the same high school as their late son Joel. The passing of Joel who took his own life, was driven upon the harassment he received due to Joel’s chosen lifestyle; a lifestyle that didn’t bode too well with some of the other kids-Curtis included. This dinner event was created to make some form of peace with one another. However, because of the tempestuous stage all are facing through Joel’s death, things start to go in different directions, leading up toward emotional wounds being torn open rather than healed. Blames to what happened and who’s responsible are tossed around to one another, blurring the conclusion to who is the real bully of them all, and who is the victim.

This one act play by Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill takes its premise upon an actual episode that occurred in Ottawa, Ontario where a 15 year old boy was harassed by his peers just because he was gay, and eventually took his own life. The playwright used that event as his guide, along with the fact that Jordan himself was also bullied because he was gay and wasn’t accepted by the kids he knew. That is what makes this play very emotional; it’s culled through experience! The drama depicted in very tense where at times, the audience that views this show can experience moments where it becomes eerily quiet, adding to the charged responses this production congers up. The cast of five players that appear in this program shows off their dramatic timing very well, from the first lighter (and even comical) moments to its final epilogue. Bruce Gray directs this stage production that speaks upon an issue that isn’t brought into a conscious effort as often as it should, although social media’s power to express this issue plays an important role (both in this play and in real life) for the good or otherwise!

Jeff G. Rack, Theatre 40’s residential set designer, presents a set that consists of a fancy looking polished dining room table set for six along with a backdrop of a matching buffet. The side wings of the stage are barren. This condensed setting was intentionally designed where the audience would focus upon the dinner party around the table where all of the drama (and the lighter moments) takes pl Save ace.

The title of this play, LATE COMPANY, expresses the fact that whatever happened in the past is being resolved, but long after the fact–much too late to do anything except to learn, understand, and accept. A teen’s life is never easy to live through, no matter when or in what era one experienced that moment of existence. It all depends upon acceptance, and how one tolerates another person’s personal lifestyle of choice. This play proves its point in a sufficient and thought-provoking manner.