Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

August 6, 2023

REVIEW: Great Barrington Public Theater, "Just Another Day"

McConnell Theater Bard College at Simon’s Rock, Great Barrington, MA
through August 13, 2023
by C. L. Blacke

After a one week delay, "Just Another Day" finally makes its world premiere at Great Barrington Public Theater in partnership with Shadowland Stages in Ellenville, NY. A poignant and powerful new play, it was written by and stars Dan Lauria, a name that audiences may find familiar.

Lauria has appeared in over seventy television programs, fifty professional stage productions,
twenty Movies-of-the-Week, and countless films, but he is perhaps best known for his role as Jack Arnold in the Emmy-winning television series, The Wonder Years. He is also the co-creator of the Durango Play Festival for the development of new plays and writes children’s books with his godson.

Jodi Long, who plays opposite Lauria in this production, brings her own accolades to the stage. She debuted on Broadway at age seven, won the audience award at the LA Asian Pacific Festival for her documentary Long Story Short, and won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress as “Mrs. Basil E” in Netflix’s Dash & Lily (being the first Asian-American to win an Emmy in any Acting category).

With the cast of two, plus an ominous offstage character called The Bell Ringer, "Just Another Day" was inspired by Lauria’s personal experience with the aging and memory loss of a dear friend. What makes his play different, though, is that it isn’t told from an outsider’s perspective witnessing a friend’s decline but from two people in their seventies facing it together.

The unnamed man (Lauria) and woman (Long) meet at a park bench every day and find common ground through their love of old movies (His Girl Friday, It’s A Wonderful Life, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre). He, a comic and she, his muse, begin to create their own comedy even as they try to remember who they—and each other—are.

The man is crass and tells bawdy jokes. The woman values love and the beauty of language. They both trade barbs and japes—his with witty one-liners and hers with an acerbic lexicon rivaled only by Noah Webster himself. There are moments of laugh-out-loud humor and profound sadness, moments of helpless desperation, and moments of absolute hope as the characters continue to create anew each day. But beneath it all, there is also a current of love that not even age or memory loss can deny.

Masterfully directed by James Glossman, "Just Another Day" brings dignity to the process of growing old and reminds us of Lauria’s wisdom: "As long as we create, we are not lost."