Old Friends

Irish college buddies Mick (Daniel Freedom Stewart) and Dermot (Gary Gregg) may have gotten older, but neither seems to have ever grown up. Mick, a charmer and womanizer, has a boring job but a lovely wife, whereas his socially awkward friend Dermot is a lonely postman always pining for companionship. Neither seems to have moved on from the best summer of their lives, the one right after college in 1989 when they secured visas to work as busboys in New York City. In the heartwarming and humorous character-driven play Trousers, written by Paul Meade and David Parnell and playing at 59E59 Theaters, Mick and Dermot are reunited 17 years after that summer, the last one they would spend together.

Completely out of the blue, Mick turns up on Dermot's doorstep with a suitcase full of clothes his ex-wife shredded before kicking him out of the house. Though much time has passed between them, Dermot immediately invites Mick to stay on his couch until he gets his life back together. Initially, their interaction is awkward and strained, but when Dermot starts to play a familiar old song on his record player, the two are on their feet and dancing to the same beat as if no time has passed.

Dermot is obviously a music enthusiast. His shelves are stuffed with hundreds of records, CD's, DVD's, cassettes, and music books, stacked high and positioned far enough apart from each other to create the illusion of a Manhattan skyline.

His lonesome existence adds a sad element to this comedy. We can see that he is a kind, likable, and fun person to be around, yet he consistently makes bad choices, hiding his head in the sand instead of dealing with his problems. Because his job ends in the early afternoon, Dermot spends most of his time thinking about a nurse named Linda whom he volunteered to D.J. for at a hospital fund-raiser. Until meeting Linda and reconnecting with Mick, Dermot's life was as empty as the symbolic green coffee mug lying on his table that he hopes to one day raise through the power of positive thinking.

But despite the underlying sadness in Dermot's life, the play never feels heavy, mainly because of the warm chemistry that Stewart and Gregg bring to their characters. Their silly conversations and goofy personalities are the glue that holds this story together.

At the same time, there is evidence to suggest that Mick's role in Dermot's life has not always been positive. Something happened in New York City to cause a rift between them, and the answer to this mystery has something to do with the plaid trousers they shared while clubbing in the Village. Oddly, Dermot has never thrown these trousers away, even though they have long since fallen out of style.

Fortunately, this mystery does nothing to damper the play's upbeat, feel-good mood. There is a joy in knowing that whatever separated these two so many years ago has not kept them from reuniting when they both need each other most. Time has not been able to change the fact that Mick and Dermot know, accept, and understand each another in a way no one else in the world has been able to.

George Patton once said, "Success is how high you bounce when you hit rock bottom." Meade and Parnell's production of Trousers shows us that with a friendship like Mick and Dermot's, you will always have a springboard waiting.

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