Reviews, Theater
Oct 17, 2023

Review: ‘The Engagement Party’

Geffen Playhouse debuted the West Coast premiere of The Engagement Party from playwright Samuel Baum. Just when you think you know where the story goes, it changes.

Image: Justin Bettman

The Engagement Party opens on a young couple who gather family and friends to celebrate their engagement. As the fiancé Josh, (Jonah Platt) does a believable job as the earnest grew up “Blue Collar” guy who worked hard to make it in the cut-throat world of finance. Speaking of perfection, as Katherine, the ultra-chic bride-to-be with her fancy $300,000 engagement ring, Bella Heathcote is perfectly cast as the overly privileged but nice Upper East Side standard fiancée. Our favorite character and perhaps the performance that stole the show goes to Josh’s best friend. Johnny from Canarsie, played by Brian Patrick Murphy, is a chefs kiss of a character. With strong choices and a firm handle on who his character is, having him even stand on the stage really stole the scenes. Adding to the mix are Alan (Mark Jacobson), Haley (Lauren Worsham) and Kai (Brian Lee Huynh) as life long friends with prejudices, and issues lurking just beneath the surface, they make for interesting storylines. Rounding out the play are Katherine’s parents, Richard Bekins as Conrad and Wendie Malick as Gail.

The play doesn’t shy away from the darker surprises of human nature or the lengths we go to appeal to what or who we want. As the story unfolds trust is tried. A hiccup in table manners leads to the loss of the $300,000 engagement ring that leaves the life long friends at one another’s throats. Echoing “it’s just money,” Katherine has to face the reality that all in her life may not be well. The play holds a few laughs but come prepared to feel the microscope of observation revealed as inter-personal relationships are stretched and prodded.

Tickets currently priced at $39.00 – $129.00. Available by phone at 310.208.2028 or online at Fees may apply. The Engagement Party runs from now until November 5 at the Geffen Playhouse, 10886 Le Conte Avenue in Westwood. Show times are Wednesdays through Saturdays at 8:00pm, Saturday matinees at 3:00pm, and Sundays at 2:00 and 7:00pm.