Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe
The Way We Get By Has a Secret to Tell
That's the first of many secrets their interactions raise in Neil LaBute's The Way We Get By, in a wonderfully urban setting within an urban settinga contemporary apartment, designed apparently by a committee of people with OCD, at the versatile Aux Dog X-Space in Nob Hill. The audience is part of the scene as they eavesdrop on Doug and Beth.
Jessica Osbourne and Hania Luke Stocker keep us on edge while LaBute's layered dialog builds the tension between them. Director Victoria J. Liberatori ratchets up the discomfort level by deploying her cast around the entire set. Doug is on the couch, he's on the chair, Beth is in the kitchen, on the couch, on the chair. The action cleverly has them two-stepping around the elephant in the room.
OCD does play a part here. Beth's unseen roommate Kim has arranged everything to her liking and Beth is just a visitor in the overly neat apartment. The only thing she owns is a vase that Kim gave her; of course, it perfectly matches the decor.
At first Kim's unseen presence is simply oppressive and then the light dawns: roomie is just a stand-in for the conventions that keep the couple sealed within their own dilemma. With a place for everything and everything in its place, Doug and Beth don't fit the mold.
LaBute has been labeled by some as a misanthropist and a misogynist, but for me his plays and screenplays have always been true to life, perhaps to a fault. People are not pretty. We're selfish and snappish, stupid, and cruel. But there's a difference in The Way We Get By. The outside world (and Kim) might be petty and punitive, but Doug and Beth are not compelled to punish each other.
Aux Dog Theatre brings off-beat, must-see plays to Albuquerque. The Way We Get By is one of them, and it is a regional premiere, having opened and closed in New York this year. This lighter LaBute offering, at 85 minutes without intermission, is a date-night gift.
Through December 6, 2015, Friday-Saturday 7:30, Sunday 2 p.m., Aux Dog Theatre X-Space, 3015 Monte Vista Blvd. NE, (505) 254-7716, auxdog.com