Love lives don't get easier after college in 'A Swell in the Ground'

Monday, 23 October 2017, 08:11:17 PM. REVIEW: 'A Swell in the Ground' at Gift Theatre. Janine Nabers' world premiere play is about angst and relationships after college. (2.5 stars)
A former Julliard fellow, the New York-based writer Janine Nabers clearly is well acquainted with the years when former students of prestigious schools hit New York City and find out a few hard truths about themselves and those they thought they loved. “A Swell in the Ground,” which could well be a pitch for a Netflix series, looks at a quartet of such hyperarticulate Ivy League characters, all trying to reconcile the disparity in their relative levels of achievement even as they deal with the inevitable blows that hit a young professional life, and a young relationship, and the disappearance of the comforts of undergraduate life. It’s all a fancy world away from Jefferson Park. But good for Gift Theatre for taking a risk on a world premiere (the audience Friday night was smaller than the piece deserved). The travails of the urban 20-something hardly is unchartered territory, but the distinctive aspect of “A Swell in the Ground” is (aside from the important inclusion of African-American characters in a genre that often lacks them) the chronology of the storytelling. This play does not move forward or backward, but backward and forward. We see the couple Nate (Keith Neagle) and Olivia (Sydney Charles) in, say, 2007, then a couple of years before, and then maybe several years later. You know where you are by a date projected on a two-level set by Eleanor Kahn that is shoehorned awkwardly into the Gift’s space. The playwright’s sympathies lie mostly with Olivia, who has to deal...Read more
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