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TheatreLab tackles the plight of the gay best friend in “Significant Other” 

click to enlarge Deejay Gray, Jessi Johnson, Mallory Keene and Kelsey Cordrey star in the comedy “Significant Other” by Joshua Harmon, which originally premiered off-Broadway in 2015.

Tom Topinka

Deejay Gray, Jessi Johnson, Mallory Keene and Kelsey Cordrey star in the comedy “Significant Other” by Joshua Harmon, which originally premiered off-Broadway in 2015.

Live long enough and you may hit that period where everyone you know seems to pair off and begin a new chapter of life.

It's a time of transition, where the dynamics of longstanding friendships may morph and your favorite besties might not have the time for you they once did. This juncture is the focus of "Significant Other," Joshua Harmon's play about a single gay man whose three best girlfriends are doing just that.

"In a lot of ways, this play is about the plight of the gay best friend," says Deejay Gray, who stars as Jordan Berman in TheatreLab's new production, produced in association with Richmond Triangle Players. "This is a play about how we deal with loneliness and how we still have to be encouraging of people who are finding happiness when we aren't."

Where "Bad Jews" — the dark comedy that put Harmon on the map —probed topics of familial relationships, faith and assimilation, "Significant Other" focuses on issues of love, loneliness and adult friendships. Set in New York, the show follows Jordan as he tries to find Mr. Right while watching his friends settle down.

"He's just feeling more and more left out. They're leaving his life as he knows it, and he doesn't have anybody," says Jacqueline Jones, who plays Helene, Jordan's grandmother in the show. "He's just feeling lost. He's looking for himself."

Matt Shofner, the show's director, emphasizes how relatable the show is to today's audiences.

"It's witty, it's fast-paced, it's unapologetic, it's honest, and it's very, very modern," says Shofner, who audiences may be most familiar with for his starring turn in "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" at TheatreLab. "It sounds like it could be any person that you know, talking to you or texting you."

While the show grapples with loneliness and the loss of friendship, Gray emphasizes that the show is hilarious.

"The humor is peppered consistently throughout the play," he says. "I think that Joshua Harmon has a great way of addressing very difficult conversations while making sure that the audience is laughing."

Shofner also lauds Harmon's playwrighting and how it breezily jumps from scene to scene.

"The story is told in an almost cinematic way," he says. "It's structured and framed very much like a sitcom, quick cuts between scenes. As the structure of the play plays out before you, it starts to feel like we're watching him experience life moving too fast for him. All of the scenes sort of bleed over into each other."

Playing Jordan's cadre of friends are local actresses Kelsey Cordrey, Jessi Johnson and Mallory Keene. Rounding out the cast, Matt Polson and Dan Cimo play both Jordan and the female characters' love interests.

"The supporting cast is really brilliant," Shofner says. "I could not have asked for a better group."

Just as "Bad Jews" was accessible to people outside the Jewish faith, Gray says this show has a universal relatability.

"This is not just a play that appeals to millennial gay people," he says. "This is a lively, engaging, unromantic romantic comedy that will please everyone."

TheatreLab's "Significant Other" plays Sept. 20-29 at the Basement, 300 E. Broad St. For information, visit theatrelabrva.org or call 506-3533.

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