The lights in the Keene Theater dim and signal the start of the show, but no actors appear on stage. Instead, a large screen descends from the ceiling and reveals a quote: “I said to the sun, ‘Tell me about the Big Bang.’ The sun said, ‘It hurts to become.’ — Andrea Gibson.” This short line accurately represents the major themes that persist throughout Weaving. The show, primarily an LGBTQ coming-of-age story, also touches on themes of sexism, homophobia, and the relationships that shape our lives — friendship, romantic, and familial.
Right away, the opening scene sets the tone for the rest of the show. A group of friends — Vero, Bastian, Dominic, and Marcus — are playing basketball together. However, an argument quickly arises when Marcus tries to exclude Vero because he doesn’t want to play with a girl anymore. The rest of the group defends her, but Vero uses the homework excuse and decides to leave. This short scene gives the audience a lot of important information. Firstly, the audience is introduced to one of the primary sources of external conflict throughout the show: Marcus’ ugly and exclusionary behavior. In addition, we learn a good amount about the dynamics of the friend group. Dominic and Bastian are loyal friends who aren’t afraid to stand up for Vero, which in addition to revealing important aspects of their character, also hints to the overarching theme of friendship.
The dynamics of this friend group only become more important as the show goes on and more conflicts come into play. Vero and Bastian are grappling with their new romantic feelings for people of the same sex, Marcus and Natasha are dealing with family problems at home, and each character faces their own academic struggle. As these issues create more and more stress for each of them, friendships change: Marcus becomes more aggressive, Bastian is more distant, and Natasha and Vero grow closer. Throughout the show, I enjoyed watching as the characters learned how to capably be there for each other. For instance, there’s a moment when Vero is struggling to put her feelings into words, and Natasha reassures her that she doesn’t have to talk if she’s not ready to. After this scene, Vero tells Bastian the same thing. Previously, she had been pressuring Bastian to talk to her about his feelings for Dominic, but after her conversation with Natasha, Vero learns that all she needs to do is assure Bastian that she will be there to listen when he’s ready.
Marcus, however, is an exception to this character development. His behavior ultimately creates an unrepairable divide between him and the rest of the group. He is consistently sexist; he wants to exclude Vero from basketball and criticizes Dominic by calling him a girl. His homophobia also becomes apparent when he physically assaults Bastian because he (correctly) assumes he’s gay. I disliked his character, not only for his inexcusable behavior, but also because his character was very static. He was consistently mean, and there weren’t any moments where he had positive interactions with his friends. There was reference to his father’s alcoholism, which may have been an attempt to make his character more personable by giving a reason for his behavior. If this was the case, I didn’t find it successful.
I did, however, appreciate how the coming-out process for Vero and Bastian was handled. The parallel of their two experiences highlighted the similarities that unite all coming-out stories, as well as the many differences that distinguish them. Bastian seemed to have a harder time accepting his sexuality than Vero did because he struggled with a lot of internalized homophobia. In the end, however, he was able to overcome this and accept his feelings for Dominic. This development was touching to see.
The play also tackled themes of sexism, family issues, and troubles at school. Although I believe that all of these topics are important and very relevant to the teenage experience, I felt, at times, that reducing the number of themes addressed, or addressing them to a lesser extent, would have improved the show overall. It sometimes felt like the play was tackling too many issues at once, which made certain moments feel unrealistic or forced. There was one scene, which I referenced earlier, where Marcus insults Dominic by calling him a girl. Dominic responds by telling Marcus he shouldn’t say those kinds of things. For me, this moment felt unrealistic because during my time in high school, very few boys or girls called out their peers on sexist comments. Boys often made comments like these, or worse, and I seldom heard them corrected, especially by another one of their male friends.
On another note, however, I did really enjoy the transitions between scenes. Transitions were active moments where music played and actors moved about the stage and surrounding areas. When the mood was lighter, especially during Act 1, upbeat music played and the actors appeared to be walking through school hallways or getting ready for gym class. Contrarily, after a sad scene, somber music played, the lights were dim, and a single, distressed actor took the stage. I enjoyed these transitions because they kept the show interesting, reflected the passage of time, and emphasized the current mood.
After the show came to a close, I made my way out of the small, intimate theater feeling moved by the performance and glad I had gone. The actors delivered impressive performances, the soundtrack to the show was well done, and the RC Players delivered an interesting and meaningful story about LGBTQ youth experiences.