Tough is one tough play to watch. Essentially a 70-minute fight between a couple, it starts off turned up to eleven and never really lets up. The Bobby has cheated on his girlfriend and her best friend caught him. As the argument progresses, with the best friend egging on the tension, it is revealed that Bobby’s girlfriend is pregnant. Faced with a lot to swallow at one time, Bobby is unable to articulate what he wants from the relationship (should he stay or should he go) or from the pregnancy (what kind of involvement will he have).

About half way through the play I found myself asking “so what?” Though the acting had a great deal of pop, Tough never rises above its basic premise of a lover’s quarrel, though it tries. I think it was trying to make a point about the difficulties of being in your early 20s, and the major life decisions the age brings. But the play sends the message that these decisions have to be made immediately and once made, there’s no looking back. Its assertion that you can never rise above the life you’ve been born into, that there’s no use in dreaming because reality will crush those dreams is nihilistic thinking, and just not true. The way it arbitrarily portrays all men as spineless weasels with “a dog’s brain” seemed unnecessary as well.

Tough is a play about 21-year olds and it feels like it was written by a 21-year old who is still sorting things out. As such, it’s hard to imagine this appealing to anyone other than people going through the exact same problems.

Tough plays at the Khyber Arts Center 3 (Turret) Saturday September 8 at 9:45pm and Sunday September 9 at 3:45pm.

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