Late Company Review - The Consequences of Bullying

Written by award-winning Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, Theatre 40 proudly presents the U.S. premiere of this topical and timely Canadian production. Inspired by the 2011 suicide of Jamie Hubley, a 15-year-old Ottawa teenager and the son of a city counselor, Tannahill has woven tragic events into a gripping tale of bullying and teenage vulnerability. Tannahill, who identifies himself as gay and the victim of bullying when younger, clearly has a potent handle on where these two factors might lead.

City politico Michael Shaun-Hastings (Grinnell Morris) and his wife Debora (Ann Hearn) have invited Tamara and Bill Dermot (Jennifer Lynn Davis and Todd Johnson) and their son Curtis (Baker Chase Powell) to their home for dinner. But this isn’t an ordinary invitation and certainly will not be an ordinary evening. The well-to-do suburban couple plan to host the Dermots in order to find closure to their son’s suicide a year ago – and teenager Curtis was one of the bullies who drove their son to the deed. The Dermots are a bit late, but no matter. Nothing can sway any of them from his true purpose.

LATE COMPANY explores the dynamics of a grieving family as they try to understand this family tragedy and, hopefully, move on with their lives. But the Dermots come to the dinner with their own baggage, and sparks will surely fly as the two couples attempt to get past pain and guilt to reach a new level of consciousness. Meanwhile, young Curtis stands on the sidelines, a quiet observer trying to handle the consequences of “boys being boys.”

Talented and experienced director Bruce Gray helms a production which, in lesser hands, might prove maudlin. The competent cast try to inject a bit of humor and a ray of hope into a sad and irrational event which has torn apart two families and an entire community. Debora describes her politician spouse as “always more interested in the spin than the spin cycle.” Her guest Tamara, “as complicated as a coloring book,” spars with the passionate Deborah in a game with no winners. To their immense credit, the cast breathes life into each character and manages to keep the five principals unique and fascinating.  Even the silent Curtis comes into his own as the play progresses.

Resident designer Jeff G. Rack’s set design is eloquently simple, while resident costume designer Michele Young’s costumes strike the right note. The entire production team has placed the characters just where they need to be. Overall, LATE COMPANY is a touching, poignant production about some contemporary hot topics. The audience will leave with some intriguing questions which may have no pat answers.

LATE COMPANY runs through February 19, 2017, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. Theatre 40, in the Reuben Cordova Theatre, is located at 241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212 (on the campus of Beverly Hills High School). Tickets are $30. For information and reservations, call 310-364-0535 or go online.  

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