Libertarians and conservatives who complain they have little to see in the cinema and theatre that even remotely expresses their views – and when they do, it’s almost always pretty amateurish stuff – have cause to rejoice in Allen Barton’s Years to the Day, currently in a limited run at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
But the play — a dialogue between two longtime friends, one liberal, one conservative/libertarian — is far more than a political tract. It is a meditation on midlife in most of its important aspects — relationships, family, sexuality, technology, politics, health, and (naturally) death.
The structure of the play — two friends, graduates of an “elite university,” meeting for coffee for the first time in four years and then going after each other, often quite wittily, for eighty minutes, as one hidden secret after another pours out — owes much to David Mamet and Edward Albee. But — dare I say it — I found Barton’s work in many ways more engaging than that of the more famous playwrights, perhaps because those revelations related more to my life. They had a decidedly contemporary edge.
I won’t reveal what they were because they are the fun of the play — and you should see it while you can. Especially if you are a conservative or libertarian, this will be like finding an oasis in the Sahara of the American theatre. But bring your liberal friends too. They may see a very different play from you here — and it will be sure to generate a lot “interesting” conversation afterwards. (When is the last time that happened?)
I assure you the production is up to snuff, well-directed by Joe Polis with fine performances by Michael Yavnieli and Jeff LeBeau. Barton himself, as many of you know, hosted the “Front Page” show for PJTV. He is also a theatre director, acting teacher, and concert pianist. (I know — one of those accomplished people. What can we do?)
Tickets are available here. If you are anywhere near Southern California, go.