"I'm not sure it's fair we have to come of age so young. Sometimes I think if I could do it again, I would get it right this time," says Adam, one of the two friends in Matthew Greene's "Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea." Plan-B Theatre Company is currently giving the play its world premiere in an energized, insightful production that works more times than it misses.
Adolescence is an angst-filled time for most of us: we seesaw up and down trying to define who we are and how we relate to our world and the people in it. Greene's play traces the trajectory of that tumultuous time period through the friendship of Adam and Steve, two young men who start out sharing their sameness only to discover how different they really are. Adam identifies more with his LDS religion and Steve acknowledges he is gay and copes with the challenges that result. The polarizing debate over California's Proposition 8 fractures lines into their relationship.
Greene sets the play during the years when Adam and Steve transition from high school to college at the tree where they played hide-and-seek as children. Scenes also flash back to that happier time, indicated by subtle changes in Phil Lowe's lived-in-looking costumes. Randy Rasmussen's towering wooden-slat tree dwarfs the boys at the same time that it shelters and protects them. The treebathed in Jesse Portillo's subtly shifting multicolored lightingbecomes a metaphor for the sustaining strength of memory and shared experience. Their childhood game is echoed in the "games" they play as they grow older, hiding and then divulging secrets about their attitudes and lives.