This Space Between Us: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

(photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

When you see a play that leaves a lot of room for questions, it then leaves a lot to be desired.  Such is the case with This Space Between Us, the new play by Peter Gil-Sheridan in its world premiere presented by Keen Company and directed by Jonathan Silverstein.

Billed surprisingly as a comedy, and it kicks off that way, the tone quickly shifts as it endeavors to provoke by introducing what feels like a cornucopia of issues, none of which get explored in a satisfying manner.

When we meet the family and others, they are convening at a racetrack for a fun afternoon, which ultmately turns sour.  Jamie, an attorney in his 30s, is meeting his parents, dad Cuban Frank, mom Debbie, and aunt Sister Pat, a nun.  They are readily joined by Ted, Jamie’s boyfriend and Gillian, a close friend of Jamie’s. While Frank gets elated when he wins a horse race, Jamie and Ted get visibly horrified when one of the horses gets injured and has to get shot out of mercy.  Yes….we hear the gun go off.  The significance?! To show the distinction in generational concerns?!

We see a birthday party thrown for Jamie, Ted winds up in the hospital, and Jamie (Ryan Garbayo) eventually announces he is leaving everything behind to go to Africa to do noble work for an international aid agency.  Before he leaves, Ted gifts him a pricey Swiss watch as a show of love, which Jamie declines, as he doesn’t want to wear it as a symbol of status in Africa…but he’s clearly breaking up with Ted.  He lets the relationship go pretty easily.  And, Jamie’s parents can’t grasp how he would give up his solid career, as they make references to their openness to taking a job at Home Depot, should money become a problem for them, since Frank lost his job.  Everyone is caught off guard, perplexed, angry and letdown. But, not sure that we really care, and that’s the key.

As the play goes on, and the tone grows increasingly heavy, questions emerge that become all the less clear….

Why was it important that Ted have HIV and wind up in the hospital?

Why did Jamie cut off everybody when he relocated?

Why exactly didn’t Jamie attend his father’s funeral? (spoiler alert)

The six member ensemble cast works hard.  Joyce Cohen as Debbie is a sincere, sprightly mom; Anthony Ruiz is earnest and a spunky proud Hispanic dad. Tommy Heleringer as heartfelt Ted and Alex Chester is sassy as an over the top friend.  As Sister Pat, Glynis Bel is likeable and plays a good sport to the hilt, with constant comedic-attempt references to her “wimple.” Garbayo is given the most to work with, and turns in a commanding performance.

Costumes are by Rodrigo Muñoz,  props by Addison Heeren, lighting by Daisy Long, with sound design by Luqman Brown.

This Space Between Us takes its title from attempts to present generational space in viewpoints, but unfortunately, it also leads to space between the play and the audience, given its lack of depth.

This Space Between Us (running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes, no intermission) is playing through April 2 at Theatre Row.  Visit

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