The roommate problem
In this corner we have Aaron, a privileged college kid from Brentwood who expects that directing a Hollywood movie will come to him as easily as the next day’s mail. And in this corner we have Aaron’s assigned dorm roommate, Iskinder (aka Izzy). He’s a middle-class immigrant, part Ethiopian, with a sincere dream of becoming a lawyer and just as sincerely fighting for something meaningful. (Never mind that he deals weed, stashed in peanut butter jars, on the side.) Aaron and Izzy’s friendship, during and beyond college, is the foundation of Jonathan Caren’s new play, The Recommendation, now at the Old Globe’s theater in the round. With its wit and sass and class differences, that friendship is intriguing on its own. But throw in a third party -- Dwight, a street survivor/repeat offender who Aaron meets when he’s arrested and tossed into jail -- and questions of conscience, loyalty and betrayal elevate this drama to compelling heights.
Caren’s pungent dialogue, graphic characterizations from Evan Todd (as Aaron), Brandon Gill (as Iskinder) and Jimonn Cole (as Dwight), and an inescapable tension that closes in on the sparse stage make The Recommendation worthy of its title.
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David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.