JONAH: Dreams of Desire — Review
Gabby Beans stays onstage throughout Jonah, a well-composed new play by Rachel Bonds, that tracks the development of her character’s imagination and reality from high school through sometime in her 30s. An actor of great magnetism, her skills are called upon to portray Ana, who we meet as an imaginative teen tiptoeing into a situationship with the adorable Jonah (Hagan Oliveras), a day student at the preppy boarding school they attend.
Those seeds of creativity lead to a successful writing career, as we learn when we see her somewhat entertaining the fanboy advances of Steven (John Zdrojeski) at a tucked-away retreat years later. Their blossoming, however, had to stumble through a turbulent relationship with her step brother Danny (Samuel H. Levine) throughout her college years. Ana’s inner and outer worlds collapse and refract as Bonds throws into question the roles of desire, imagination, and personal survival narratives.
Beans, as always, is a pleasure to watch, crafting an unfussy performance that allows for moments of levity and humor as well as deeply embodied pathos. Her character’s rush towards an emotional spike is less a performance flaw than a curious gap in the play’s otherwise tightly constructed machinations.
Danya Taymor’s direction keeps everything neatly on track, and Wilson Chin presents another creatively efficient set in Ana’s sparse, make-what-you-will bedroom. Fine acting, with Beans as its strong core, make Jonah a worthy look at the stories we tell ourselves.
Jonah is in performance through March 10, 2024 at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre on West 46th Street in New York City. For tickets and more information, visit here.