Quark Theatre co-founder/director Tony Isbell has a tidy description for Allen Barton's play, Years to the Day: "It's sort of like if David Mamet had written a play set in a version of our world with a slightly different history."
For those familiar with Mamet's work, particularly early one-acts like Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and less-frequently produced dramas like The Old Neighborhood, that's not a bad summary. Years to the Day is a funny, angry, frustrated, frustrating rant of a play about the way we live now that's difficult to make sound half as dynamic as it should. The plot: Two middle-aged guys named Dan and Jeff — former college pals, still digitally networked — organize a face-to-face coffee reunion and discover, via contentious conversation, a vast gulf of difference between connecting and being connected. Imagine a smartphone-era My Dinner with Andre featuring a Trump fan and Bernie bro in a world without Trump or Bernie.
- Still connected
"Politics and the personal are irrevocably intertwined," Isbell says. "It's sort of like what happens on Facebook when you discover that an old college chum has completely changed his political stripes. Or maybe he was 'that way' all along, and it just never came up. Can you remain friends with someone who has a radically different view of the world?"
Who doesn't ask that question several times a week these days?
A Downtown Memphis Commission program for pop-up businesses has provided Quark with a temporary home. Years to the Day is being presented at 7 N. Main, September 8th through 29th. The non-traditional venue accomplishes the most wonderful thing that can happen when theater is produced in environmental and reclaimed spaces — when you first encounter it, it seems like a glowing out-of-place vision. Like "Something unexpected," as Tennessee Williams once wrote of essential theater. "Something you aren't used to." Quark's motto is "small and essential," and the young company's sophomore effort starring Adam Remsen and David Hammons, measures up.