On the Radar: This Is Our Youth

Friday, April 22 and Saturday, April 23. 8 p.m. Adams House Pool Theater. $6; students $5. Tickets available at the Harvard Box Office.

The production of “This is Our Youth,” at the Adams Pool Theater this weekend turns back time to the 1980s, when a conservative was in the White House, cocaine was huge, and rich New York teenagers sat lazily smoking pot subsidized by their allowance.

“The funny thing is, nothing’s really changed since then,” says Jake Barnett, a cast member, pinpointing the appeal of “This is Our Youth” for today’s audiences. Barnett, a senior at Brandeis College, is traveling to Harvard to play Warren, a troubled and spineless teenager and one of the play’s three characters. Jason L. Glick, GSE ’05, also the director, plays Warren’s counterpart, Dennis, and Sarah E. Stein ’08 takes on the role of Jessica, a young woman who enters late in the play.

The play takes place in Dennis’ studio apartment where Warren, having been kicked out of (and having stolen fifteen thousand dollars from) his father’s house, arrives, needy and pathetic. Dennis has assembled a life for himself; he is a successful drug dealer; he has an apartment and a girlfriend; and he lords his relative success over Warren, constantly manipulating and abusing his friend. Although these two actors were talking and joking with each other only moments before taking the stage, once on it, they build up a believable degree of tension between their characters

Even though Warren’s character seems weak and pitiable, particularly as he shows off his collection of knickknacks with too much pride and giddily tosses a football, Barnett sees the play as his coming of age.

Perhaps disturbingly, he says, “I’ve always wanted to sink my teeth into this role––I feel that I’m similar to Warren in a lot of ways.”

Glick had seen “This is Our Youth” in England in the early 1990s, and it stuck with him. When he formed a drama society at the Graduate School of Education this fall, filling a drama dearth there, he realized he had a chance to direct the play.

“I didn’t want to take it too seriously,” he says of his version. “I wanted to let the piece speak for itself, ’cause it’s such a cool piece.”

As added incentive for audiences to visit the Pool Theater this weekend, Glick says with a smile, “We’ve added a little bit of our own stuff––that’s going to be the interesting part––the secret stuff.”