March 6, 2015

Grief begets isolation, and isolation begets loneliness in “Reverberation,” a keenly felt, haunting drama by Matthew Lopez about two New Yorkers adrift in their lives who strike up a sustaining friendship. The play, making its premiere here at Hartford Stage, has the cool but precise observational feel of current television shows about singles in the city like HBO’s “Girls” and “Looking,” at least until an ill-judged spasm of violence at the end shatters the elliptical mood. The provocative opening scene begins with Jonathan, played by Luke MacFarlane (ABC’s “Brothers & Sisters”), having raucous sex with Wes (Carl Lundstedt). As soon as they’re finished, Jonathan jumps into his clothes and grabs another swig from a drink, to the surprise and disappointment of Wes, who attempts post-coital getting-to-know-you talk. Although they met on Grindr — the smartphone app that has replaced the bar as the clearinghouse of casual gay sex — Jonathan, at 35, is more than a decade older than Wes. (“Wow, you’re the oldest guy I’ve ever had sex with.”) Their worldviews are some distance apart, too. Wes is impressed that Jonathan’s apartment is awash in books and that paintings cover the walls. Jonathan extols the primacy of print, even down to the choice of fonts: “Garamond. Cambria. Baskerville,” he muses, as if referring to lost civilizations. “If that wasn’t important, they wouldn’t put that note at the end of so many books. Kindles just reduce all that to Times New Roman.”