Love, bohemians, anger, friendship, sex; all major themes of “Rent”, a Broadway show so popular and groundbreaking, it was turned into movie. After loving the movie, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the play, however it blew away any expectations I could have set, becoming the best play I had ever seen. With so much drama and conflict, viewers cannot help but feel a part of it.
“Rent” shows a year in the life of 1990’s bohemians living in New York City. Refusing to take part in the mainstream, corporate world, these characters stick out and struggle with poverty, AIDs and their views on the world.
The man who wrote the play, Jonathan Larson, a starving artist, wrote from what he knew. Unfortunately, he died the day before the play premiered, but he became a legend in the theatre world, writing one of the most powerful musicals, also called a “rock-opera.”
The play travels through a wide range of emotions, viewers finding themselves laughing one moment and verging on tears the next. It’s quite the mature play, not very family oriented. There is a lot to handle and with the significant level of information and personal impact, it’s best to see as a teenager, at minimum.
The movie, although definitely emotional, did not and could not have the same energy as the play. Watching the play is like being witness to these characters lives, most of whom you begin to feel attached to as if you know them personally. The acting throughout the play is superb, especially for a play with no names of superstar caliber. The characters include: Maureen, a free-spirited lesbian, Joanne, her girlfriend and the exact opposite, a lawyer who likes order, Mark, a film maker and Maureen’s ex-boyfriend, Roger, his roommate, who has never been able to return to his old, fun and wild self after being diagnosed with AIDs, Mimi, the young party girl, who pursues him anyway, Collins, a black gay man who unexpectedly finds love, and Angel, the optimistic man who loves him back.
Amongst this extensive list of characters, love finds several fortunate ones. You see the awkward yet obvious connection as two characters meet and watch their rocky relationship lead to love. However, unlike in many other plays or movies, their lives are not perfect simply because they have fallen in love. The complications of life are thrown into the situation, as you can feel them being torn apart; the weight of their lives catching up to them.
Anger is present in almost all of the characters at some point within the play. Whether it is Joanne, who is furious with Maureen for the many uncomfortable situations she puts her in, or essentially the rest of the cast that is angry with the corporate world and their old friend that “sold-out” and became rich and successful, turning on them in the process.
“Rent,” is both a moving film, and an unbelievably energetic, fun, emotional, play. I would recommend it to anyone who feels they are mature enough to understand the material. People of most ages and all backgrounds will get wrapped up in this play. It has been on for ten years and has decided to leave Broadway this June, so definitely go see it before it’s too late!