Studio Theatre’s new comedy, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart (review)

Like a fantasy disco, I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart opens all glitz and glamour. Yet, it isn’t as frivolous as it would want you to believe watching Sam (Nicole Spiezio) and Leo (Tommy Heleringer) strut the stage in outrageous gold and black attire fit for a burlesque-like-ball. Day-to-day life for Team Fat-Gay, as they like to call themselves, which includes loving diet coke, Top Chef, Lady Gaga, and each other, is really rather blah.Roommates Sam and Leo have known each other for 10+ years (since college) and finish each other’s sentences. They have a million inside jokes. And once choreographed “Bad Romance” (and the dance is actually quite good). Like a lot of best friends, they bring out joy in one another. And are a pure joy to watch, especially as they have a faux-orgasm over Loehmann’s latest or engage in a water fight.

Tommy Heleringer and Nicole Spiezio in I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart at Studio Theatre. (Photo: Teresa Wood)

Yet, something is amiss. Sam cleans Leo’s room, loans him money, creates a writing schedule to hold him accountable to his craft. Leo wants to be an individual, and an adult, something unlikely when Sam doesn’t allow him to test his own agency and responsibility. Sam isn’t particularly controlling, just afraid of who she is without the person she deems her better half. Afraid to the point that she treats him with kid gloves instead of honesty.

Enter Chloe (Anna O’Donaghue). Perky. Bohemian. Always bubbly (and a bit obnoxious). She is Leo’s “work wife” at his lame day job and the anti-Sam, who dresses mostly in black and wears sarcastic judgment like a Purple Heart. Chloe is thin and sweet and even funny, though Sam brushes her off with some serious side-eye.

Anna O’Donoghue and Nicole Spiezio in I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart at Studio Theatre. (Photo: Teresa Wood)

That is, until Chloe becomes a real threat to Sam’s friendship with Leo. “You confuse disinterest for dislike,” Sam says in response to Chloe asking why she hates her.

Stylistically, Wanna is done like a movie, complete with opening credits and a curtain-call worthy of film. Some scenes are so short, they are the theatrical equivalent of a Polaroid or a music video montage depicting beautiful, brief moments between friends. It also has a killer soundtrack, one that’s all about pop culture. Madonna’s “Vogue,” The Cranberries’ “Linger,” and the themes from Sex and the City, Downton Abbey, Friends, and Golden Girls all drive not only those quick scenes (and quick scene changes), but also the whole pace of the show, which covers about 5 years from start to finish.

Nicole Spiezio and Tommy Heleringer in I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart at Studio Theatre. (Photo: Teresa Wood)

But what really drives it is the witty, funny dialogue delivered with ninja precision by its three actors, especially Spiezio and Heleringer who, as Sam and Leo, are like a classic comedy duo mixing it up at a college keger. And, when they drop their funny, the weight of the relationship and its flaws are splayed out perfectly.

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Want to go?

I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart

closes February 19, 2017
Details and tickets
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Watching Sam handle the revelation that Leo is moving in with Chloe is like watching a car crash because of driver overcorrection, which seems about right for someone like Sam, who has carried the feeling of rejection—for being fat and, therefore, unwanted—for so long that she imposes her own self-hate onto others. Especially anyone not a “freak,” like petit, cheery, sweet Chloe, who is really just a person like all people trying to make the most of what she’s got. Except, Sam doesn’t realize she has so much more than just Leo, her clutch. Her friend in a freak-dom that doesn’t really exist, if it ever did.

Perhaps what is so good about this wonderful, laugh-out-loud, funny show is that it captures that one friendship/relationship everyone has had. That one that seems almost too good to be true. The one that defines you, just when you need defining, and helps guide you out of awkwardness. The one that, if you aren’t careful, will swallow you whole if you don’t let it go at the right time. And, it does it without being overly sentimental, or cheesy. It aims for a bittersweet spot and sticks the landing, thanks to a great script and direction—both done by Morgan Gould—and superb acting.

I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart is a comic jewel masking the bruised heart we all carry.

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I Wanna Fucking Tear You Apart . Written and Directed by Morgan Gould. Featuring Nicole Spiezio, Tommy Heleringer, and Anna O’Donaghue. Production: Luciana Stecconi, Set Designer; Ivania Stack, Costume Designer; Andrew R. Cissna, Lighting Designer; Justin Schmitz, Sound Designer; Adrien-Alice Hansel, Dramaturg; Josh Escajeda, Production Manager; Rob Shearin, Technical Director; Laura Scialdone, Assistant Director; Laura Stanczyk Casting, CSA. Elisabeth Ribar, Production Stage Manager. Produced by Studio Theatre . Reviewed by Kelly McCorkendale

Kelly McCorkendale About Kelly McCorkendale

Kelly McCorkendale is a dog-lover, avid quilter, and occassional creative writer who loves the color orange and boycotts cable (except “Game of Thrones” because, well, what if winter is coming!?). After college, she realized poets weren’t in demand, so she shipped off to Madagascar with Peace Corps. Since then, she’s found a niche working on health systems in Africa but has a long-list of life tasks yet to be fulfilled–such as perform blackmail, learn a trade, and become a competitive eater. She has an MA in International Education, believes rice is the elixir of life, and, in high school, won the best supporting actress honor for the state of Missouri. She may also recite poetry (her first love) when imbibing in alcohol.

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