Among the many reasons to see Neil LaBute's latest exploration of sexual relations, The Way We Get By, in its Second Stage Theatre production, is to see the actor Thomas Sadoski fussing, and to glimpse Amanda Seyfried's bare breast as she changes her t-shirt. The two-hander involves a couple after a night in bed. Is it a one-night stand? Or will they fall back into one another's arms?
As he wanders about a strange white living room with a prominent television monitor (Neil Patel's set), Doug looks lost, unsure what to do. Then Beth joins him from the other room, wearing his vintage Star Wars t-shirt. She has violated some private taboo, but the shirt, grazing her groin, gives the audience a clue about the vulnerability of pretty women, a classic LaBute theme. The ensuing dialogue is like intellectual groping, quintessential LaBute, as the characters Doug and Beth go from philosophizing about their night together to deciding what to do about it in a mere 70 minutes. They seem not to know each other too well, but then again, there's a twist. Not enough to make their relationship icky, but provocative.
Though slight, as compared, say to LaBute's recent The Money Shot, the play is a must -- for his signature dialogue, clever, rhythmic, conveying his wildly idiosyncratic ideas. LaBute's couples are unique, each in their own way. The casting here is perfect: Under Leigh Silverman's direction, Sadoski is once again the perfect LaBute male, and Seyfriend in her theater debut gives a charming effective performance. She may be a movie star, but here, onstage in the romantic genre for which she is best known, she holds her own.
A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.