Really Really: School for Scandal
Zosia Mamet, of Girls fame, stars in Paul Downs Colaizzo’s Really Really for MCC Theater. You might also expect to see the name of her father, David Mamet, somewhere on the program. Colaizzo’s college-set script about a frat-party encounter between Ms. Mamet’s Leigh and another student, Davis (Matt Lauria), owes much to the elder Mamet’s sex-wars drama Oleanna. But Colaizzo’s play is less thorny than Oleanna, its ethical landscape perilously smoother.
Colaizzo is 27, and in Really Really he attacks the venality and greed of his contemporaries—the prerogative of any young playwright—as “a generation of self-awareness and self-concern.” The night after a rugby-team kegger, Leigh, who comes from an abusive, hard-scrabble background, announces that the privileged and seemingly noble Davis has raped her. As one of his frat brothers (the muscled David Hull) says of Davis, “You’re the nicest guy I know—and I mean that in a completely negative way.” So was this really assault or merely bad sex? The play never entirely answers the question, yet the fact that Leigh only introduces rape to calm her irate boyfriend and that she follows this with a lie about miscarrying a faked pregnancy doesn’t aid her credibility. Later actions make her accusation even less likely. (Or does every girl avidly screw her alleged rapist days later?)
Crying rape is a fraught subject. Reputable studies put its incidence at between 2 percent and 10 percent of reported rapes—though the number of actual rapes likely dwarfs those reported. Any incidence is, of course, too high, but Really Really uses the specter of false rape as both weapon and titillation, which simply feeds male paranoia—especially as the play ultimately confirms pernicious sexual stereotypes: Men are stupid and women are devious schemers who then drive men to violence. (If Oleanna evinced a similar set of values, at least it did so more subtly.)
Although Leigh seems potentially sympathetic in the first couple of scenes, the ensuing ones render her nearly inhuman, a sweatshirt-clad fiend of manipulation. The script even comes near suggesting she deserves and incites rape. How do you act this? Zosia Mamet smartly underplays the role, rendering her Leigh something of a cipher. Most of the rest of the performances tend toward the presentational rather than the nuanced. David Cromer, a director of rare sensitivity, dignifies the material by treating it seriously, but the gravity Cromer lends it only makes its arguments more noxious.
At one moment, Colaizzo does suggest a more interesting play he might have written. Leigh, visited by her sister, has a rare moment of self-reflection, asking, “God—am I a monster?” Her sister replies, “Maybe. But that doesn’t mean bad shit can’t happen to you, too.” That terrible things happen to both good and bad people is an idea worth writing on. But not one this show explores. Instead, it exchanges a complex moral calculus for simple, demeaning arithmetic. That doesn’t add up to much. Really really.
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