Spokane Civic Theatre’s production of “Significant Other” explores the societal pressure to find a life partner when finding that partner, however much you might want to, proves beyond your control.
Sarah Dahmen knew very little about the show when earlier this year she agreed to direct it . Nonetheless, it quickly found its way into her heart.
“I fell in love with the story and particularly the character of Jordan,” she said. “I didn’t even have to second guess my choice … because I just felt so connected to it immediately.”
Written by Joshua Harmon, the play follows a young gay man, Jordan (Matt Pope), and his three closest girlfriends, all in their late 20s, as they commiserate over relationship struggles in New York. When the girls all eventually settle down, Jordan meets a new kind of loneliness as he attempts to discover his place in society. Staged in the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre, the show opens at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
One of the main questions the play asks is, “What happens to people who never find someone?”
“It doesn’t explicitly answer it, but it does give you a way of moving forward,” Pope said.
In the play, Jordan’s struggle to find a love match is exacerbated by heteronormative and other societal expectations, Dahmen explained. Questions like “what are you doing with your life?” and “when are you going to settle down?” come with a lot of baggage.
“The society around him is set up to make ‘brides and grooms’ at really young ages in pop culture so people who grow up outside of that ‘box’ can struggle more to find a match,” Dahmen said. “It’s real … and sad. Because Jordan has all of the qualities of a good partner – maybe even more so than one of his girlfriends – but it simply isn’t as easy for him as it is for them.”
Set in 2013, when social media was still in its early years and 20-something adults were still largely unaware of its effects, the show focuses on the added social pressures of constant marriage and relationship updates.
“Parents and grandparents have always been that gentle pressure, but the social media aspect makes it so much more potent for Jordan,” Dahmen said. Watching people’s “perfect lives” unfold online and the fear of missing out created real anxiety and depression.
“It was all happening before ‘The Social Dilemma’ came out – we just didn’t know why we felt so alone, left behind, and left out,” she said.
We may be more aware now, “but the struggle remains.”
The show is rated PG-13 for adult content, language and themes. For information, visit spokanecivictheatre.com or call the box office at (509) 325-2507.
Article by Stephanie Hammett
Photo by Marlee Andrews