Chekhov meets “Gossip Girl” in “This Is Our Youth,” Kenneth Lonergen’s bruising but sensitive comedic drama about insecure and unsure teens living on the Upper West Side in the early 1980s.
Since its 1996 Off-Broadway premiere, it has been acclaimed for its frank, casual depiction of affluent youths trying to rebel against their parents, while still attached to their purse strings, and getting carelessly mixed up in drugs and sex.
Well-known actors that have appeared in various productions over the years include Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Staged by Anna D. Shapiro (“August: Osage County,” “Of Mice and Men”) with raw intensity and a rough edge, the current Broadway production features Michael Cera, Kieran Culkin and writer Tavi Gevinson.
Cera plays the awkward and anxious Warren, who shows up unannounced at his self-centered friend Donald’s apartment, having just stolen a wad of cash from his father.
After the two contemplate using the money to finance a drug transaction, Warren gets to spend time with his crush Jessica, a relentlessly questioning fashion student.
After a first kiss, they splurge and spend the night at a suite at the Plaza. All three spend the next morning freaking out about their actions from the night before.
There’s no escaping the fact that Cera is giving a performance that closely mirrors his nervous nice guy persona from “Arrested Development” and “Superbad.” Even so, it suits his character and he brings plenty of laughs.
The 18-year-old Gevinson, who has terrific rapport with Cera, vigorously conveys Jessica’s suspicious nature.
Culkin displays greater range as Dennis, who embodies cocky 1980s materialism, seeing himself as an entrepreneur.
“This Is Our Youth” plays at the Cort Theatre through Jan. 4. 138 W. 48th St., thisisouryouthbroadway.com.