While the man sitting behind me in the Hill Theater was still wheezing with laughter, I could hear sobs coming from just a few rows forward.
Clare Barron’s You Got Older, directed by Ben Fisher ’17 and starring Julia Weinberg ’17 for their senior thesis production, led the audience through a whirlwind of emotions. By the time the play ended, it felt as though the audience was still trying to catch up with it all.
Weinberg starred as Mae, a woman moving back in with her father (Spencer Huffman ’17) to help see him through the final stages of his cancer treatments. Mae has just lost her job, her boyfriend and her apartment. She spends her days meandering through the house dreaming about a fantasy cowboy (played by Chris Stevens ’17 who also acted in Three Days of Rain) and occasionally sneaking out to drink at a bar.
It is a depressing premise — and the play was certainly heart-wrenching at times — but moments of hilarity were also present despite the heavy content because of Weinberg’s honest performance.
In one scene, Mae tells an old friend of her sister whom she has just met — Mac, played by Tristan Biber ’17 — that she is not okay and thinks her life is falling apart. She then begins an equally depressing, but somehow hilarious, rant about a mysterious rash on her back.
“Clare Barron is a really cool new writer,” Weinberg said. “She writes about women being gross, and men being gross and boils and beard hairs, and I just got to have a lot of fun playing this role.”
Although Weinberg performed her monologues extremely well, her moments with the larger cast were the strongest. When Mae’s siblings Hannah, Jenny and Matthew — played by Cassidy Lu Jones ’17, Lily Schneider ’18 and Ned Thomas ’17, respectively — get together to see their father come out of surgery, a brilliantly chaotic and humerous scene takes place.
“It was hard — we had to dedicate full days to just doing that scene,” Fisher said. “We had to sort of choreograph where everyone was going to be at any given moment and create a stage picture for every part. Then, once everything fit together, the actors could imbue it with familiarity, jokes and sibling chemistry.”
Under the direction of Fisher, the cast found a great rhythm that made each scene feel realistic and made the characters feel like a family. They talked over each other, tried to embarrass one another and got in each other’s faces, but the scene played smoothly and nothing felt like a throwaway line.
The careful direction and acting choices came together with beautifully minimalist sets designed by Abby Armato ’17 with Sarah Gaglione ’19 and seamless transitions under the direction of Stage Manager Laurel Waller ’19. The final result was a brutally honest, painfully funny and wonderfully tragic play.