Upon arriving at the Brooklyn Center for Theater Research, you might wonder if you’re intruding in someone’s home. You’ll climb a flight of stairs in the inconspicuous Huron Street loft and find yourself facing an unmarked door. If you nudge it open and walk through the kitchen, you’ll reach what appears to be someone’s living room, complete with a faded salmon-pink sofa, a circular coffee table with a bong centerpiece, and rugs layered fashionably. But folding metal chairs surround the scene on two sides, and no one actually lives here; this is where the play ZOOMERS unfolds.
ZOOMERS is a dramedy about everyday life as a member of Generation Z, written and directed by millennial Matthew Gasda, who is best known for his 2022 zeitgeist-y underground hit Dimes Square. Gasda co-founded the Brooklyn Center for Theater Research and is its playwright-in-residence. The off-off-Broadway performance space is also currently running Gasda’s play One Winged Dove, and will host upcoming events including a theater and philosophy seminar, a Shakespearian acting course, and an author workshop.
Set in a Bushwick living room, ZOOMERS orbits around a trio of roommates in their early to mid-twenties and their lovers and friends. Rather than following a clear-cut narrative, it plays out as a series of vignettes punctuated by lighting that fades in and out to denote small time jumps. Each scene involves two or three characters engaging in conversations that oscillate between philosophy (“Is monogamy out enough that it’s kinky?”) and minutiae (oat milk; “the amorphous zoomer drug called clout”).
The play’s promo poster is a collage of stereotypical Gen-Z accoutrements like Elf Bars, magenta cowboy boots, and an Aperol spritz. It would be too easy for any play about the zoomer generation to lean on such superficial stereotypes. Onstage, the characters scroll through social media side-by-side in silence, talk about TikToks, and check their phones during would-be heart-to-hearts. But Gasda seems more interested in investigating whether zoomers share anything deeper and more essential, beyond their lexicon, media diets, lifetime news headlines, and toys and technologies. The characters share common Gen-Z qualities: dry, defensive, wistful, jaded, indecisive. They dissect their overlapping dilemmas: complicated roommate dynamics, self-doubt, their varying degrees of emotional availability. The emotional availability conversation may have gotten tired by Act Two if it were not such a central theme in modern dating culture, along with others the play touches on: pansexuality, non-monogamy, age gaps, the question of “settling down” too early.
While its execution is scrappy, ZOOMERS is effective in its vision of capturing the “everyday milieu” of Gen-Z life, regarding the younger generation in a nonjudgmental, meditative way. If you’re a zoomer, or zoomer-adjacent, you will likely find yourself laughing in recognition, not in ridicule, as you bear witness to some reflection of your own neurosis playing out before and around you in that all-too-real living room.