Amy Giacalone’s “Better” is billed as a romantic comedy but is perhaps better described as a theatrical sitcom. It follows a familiar formula of focusing on a group of (mostly) likable but quirky young adults as they yuk it up, enter in and out of heartbreak and drink abnormal amounts of coffee.
The play takes the form of a conversation between Josh (Joe Givannetti) a 28 year old slacker barista, and the object of his desire, professional dog walker Abby. (Katherine Dingle) Abby is the ex-girlfriend of Brian (Ryan Finn) who is the brother of Josh’s roommate Steven. (S. Drew Brown) Josh is essentially telling Abby the story of how his crush on her developed. The rest of the action is presented in flashback. In the aftermath of breaking up with Abby, Brian comes to stay with Josh and Steven for a while. After a late night bull session the three men decide to devote themselves to self improvement, that is, to becoming “better”. Brian attempts to become less cold and arrogant, Steven decides to quit smoking and improve his relationship with his own girlfriend Sarah. (Jill Meyer) Josh attempts to get a better job and also act on the attraction he develops to Abby.
The main action is lighthearted and fun, with a breezy pace and some sharp dialogue, although there’s the occasional moment of character development via awkward assertion: “Everyone loves you! You’re the beating heart of this apartment!”. The framing device is somewhat cloying and the central romance is rushed, but Givannetti and Dingle have the chemistry to make it work.
“Better” is a moderately charming but fairly unambitious show. Like its characters, this play sets modest goals for itself and goes on to achieve them.