As I watched Tim Errickson’s play Endless Summer Nights this past weekend, which deals with the rekindling of a romance, lyrics to the Frank Sinatra song Cycles kept popping into my head.
There isn’t much that I have learned
Through all my foolish years
Except that life keeps runnin’ in cycles
First there’s laughter, then those tears
What if you had the chance to start all over again with a love that got away?
That’s the question Errickson poses in his charming romantic comedy/drama, now playing at the Connelly Theatre until October 9th.
Produced by Errickson’s Off-Off Broadway company Boomerang Theatre Company, and seamlessly directed by Christopher Thomasson, the play stars the fantastic Michael Criscuolo and Synge Maher as Sam and Tracy, a pair of former lovers who re-connect at the same beach community where they had fallen for each other 20 years before. Will they pick up where they left off? Can they pick up where they left off? Errickson’s play takes a fresh look at the paths not taken and the possibility of second chances.
Criscuolo plays thirty-something Sam, who’s recently been laid off and is looking for a change in his life. Money is tight and the lease on his apartment is coming to an end, so after years of living near the beach, Sam decides to leave the town he has called home for so long to start his life anew, but to where he plans to go he has no idea. He wants to make big changes, but as his friend Scotto (a dead-solid perfect Joseph Mathers), who has changes of his own to prepare for—namely fatherhood (his girlfriend is pregnant)—suspects, Sam is perhaps running away from something or someone.
So Sam leaves. Well, he tries. He doesn’t get very far, thanks to Tracy (Maher), an old flame who returns to town to visit her mother (a lovely Nora Hummel), recuperating after a serious fall. Tracy has changes of her own to overcome. The ink has recently dried on a bitter divorce. On top of the divorce, Tracy has lost full custody of her son to her husband, leaving her totally alone.
Sam and Tracy re-connect. As would be expected, their first meeting is awkward, sweet, funny, with even a little hint of anger. They decide to have dinner together, both wondering if they can recapture what they had 20 years before.
Where Endless Summer Nights excels is in how the re-connection between Sam and Tracy plays out. Thankfully, it avoids the clichés and sentimentality that, if done by Hollywood, would have made it yet another in a long line of predictable and disappointing romantic dramedies. Where Hollywood would have gone for wishy-washy, Errickson goes for the heartfelt and it works beautifully.
To give us an idea of what the relationship between Sam and Tracy was like, from time to time the play flashes back 20 years and we are given a glimpse into their relationship during the last summer they spent together (Bret Richard Hoskins and Becky Byers wonderfully portray the younger Sam and Tracy, respectively).
All of these scenes are charming in showing the development of the relationship between Sam and Tracy. This Sam and Tracy have a little more spring in their steps, more joy, more passion. This Sam and Tracy were in love. They were happy, exuberant. The world was their oyster. Twenty years pass. They meet again. They’re a little older, maybe even a little wiser. They’ve seen the world. They’ve won some, lost some. You see the cracks, but what you also see is the potential and that’s what this play offers: the potential for second chances—second chances to get with the one who may have gotten away, but also a second chance at life. Errickson’s play proves that there can be do-overs in life.
Who wouldn’t want that?
Endless Summer Nights runs at the Connelly Theatre until October 9th. For information on tickets, please visit the Boomerang Theatre website.