The Fault Line Theatre, at the Studio Theater of the Signature Theatre Center, has staged an excellent new play about the contemporary hot button topic of bullies called From White Plains. Written and directed by Michael Perlman, his way into the topic is not by showing a kid being bullied in the halls of high school, but rather how that experience lives on with the perpetrator and victims into adulthood. Perlman’s writing uses two parallel stories connected by the long ago teen incident, bouncing back and forth between two sets of characters until they finally intersect in surprising ways by the end. The story is told in a single sitting of a powerful 100 minutes.
The play opens with college pals Ethan (Aaron Rossini) and John (Craig Wesley Divino) watching the “Academy Awards” on TV. A recipient of an Oscar for a film called From White Plains about how a bullied teen killed himself mentions in his acceptance speech that the bully was Ethan. Ethan is shocked and initially denies being the same person, but as he thinks back he begins to realize that all his jokes and pranks of high school actually did cause a boy named Mitchell to commit suicide.
In subsequent scenes, the winner of the Oscar, Dennis (Karl Gregory), is returning home from L.A. with his boyfriend, Gregory (Jimmy King). We immediately see that they love each other, but fall into a routine of arguing over the very different ways each sees the world in which they live. Gregory likes to move on from the past––to live and let live. Dennis needs to revisit the past for even after making a movie about how his friend Mitchell was bullied to death, he is still not satisfied and relentlessly searches for a way to find justice in some way.
When Ethan decides to post a video apology online it spawns a back and forth video war between he and Dennis, who can’t begin to accept his apology. The topic opens up an array of interesting issues for all four characters and relationships change forever. Intensely emotional scenes are acted beautifully by the cast of four. The ramifications of high school bullying and the debate between the characters as adults brings out new insights into the topic that delves much deeper than a mere CNN news report. Moreover, the play is satisfying as not just a politically correct social study, but as a good story told with heart and soul and a great sense of intrigue.
For tickets and more information visit www.faultlinetheater.org.