Here Comes a Regular, Factory Theater, at Stage Left Theatre. In this comedy with music, five regulars--men in their late 30s--gather in a bar to grouse about women. Frank's live-in girlfriend of three years has unexpectedly dumped him. Steve's wife cheated on him with his boss. And Dan's wife is gorgeous but cruel. They love women, they admire them, they just don't understand them--and they desperately want to.
They've been gathering at Joe's (whose grungy warmth is well captured by set designer Darryl Miller) for 17 years, but recently things have changed. Joe's put a 22-year-old whippersnapper in charge, and he's trying to make the bar less dive and more Lincoln Park. Still, male bonding wins out as the six men down shots of Wild Turkey and air their feelings about women.
By the end, some of the material is repetitive, but cowriter-director Nick Digilio avoids sentimentality and goes with the true, telling details. For example, a scene in which Dan (Mike Vieau) reveals just how bad his relationship has become is breathtakingly sad. The cast's performances sparkle with camaraderie, especially Mike Beyer's as the depressed Steve, who makes wise (if disregarded) observations about what really happened in his friends' relationships. When the gang leave the bar, they have no answers--and no sense that the world has moved on without them. But they do have the reassurance that comes from being understood by old friends.