For his third play as writer, The Spoils, Jesse Eisenberg – who also stars – is joined onstage by Alfie Allen, Katyie Brayben, Annapruna Sriam, and Kunal Nayyar for a sharp, hilarious, and sometimes slightly uncomfortable comedy about love, entitlement, and toxic friendships.
We sat down with Eisenberg and Nayyar, who play roommates Ben and Kaylan, and asked them to solve some tricky roommate dilemmas. Here's what went down.
OK, let's start with a relatively easy dilemma: Your roommate refuses to do the dishes. What do you do?
Jesse Eisenberg: Just wash the dishes and give them a hug. It's benevolence. Pass it on.
Kunal Nayyar: Always choose love.
Have you ever left any passive-aggressive notes?
KN: I've never done that.
JE: I live with my sister and her boyfriend, so it's just aggressive-aggressive. We've passed passive-aggressive decades ago. Although if I'm speaking as my character in the play, I torture my roommate, there's nothing passive about it. And his [Nayyar's] character grows, I would say, increasingly passive-aggressive, because it's his only outlook.
What if your roommate comes home super drunk one night. Do you join in on the fun or tell them to shut up?
KN: I used to get super annoyed because I had work and my roommates weren't working. So I would get annoyed, and it did work, they were very respectful.
What if your roommate is a total chatterbox and whenever they start talking you're trapped in the conversation for hours?
JE: These are all really good things that I never have to contend with.
KN: 'Cause you're usually that guy?
JE: I'm the person who keeps them in the room.
Why do you do that?
JE: Oh, I hate being alone. You know? It's terrifying and you start to consider death.
KN: The beauty is, now you have cellphones so you can pretend like you're paying attention but actually you could be playing Candy Crush. I've never played Candy Crush.
What do you do if your roommate is a total hermit?
JE: That's what you like, that's ideal. A hermit is ideal for a roommate, because that's like living alone.
BuzzFeed: But you just said you don't like being alone.
JE: OK, right, that's true. Goodness gracious, you've caught me in a hypocrisy.
KN: We're going to start crying at the end of this.
What about roommates who are pathological liars? Do you burst their bubble when you've uncovered a lie?
KN: Yeah, but no matter what you do, you still can't stop what they're doing, because pathological liars, that's just what they do. There's no end.
JE: Yeah, my character in this play is a pathological liar and his [Nayyar's] character only starts feeling comfortable to kind of expose me when his back is really against the wall.
What if your roommate brings home a pet pig without asking?
KN: Eat it. Chorizo for life. No, I'm joking, I'm joking. Pet pigs are adorable. I wouldn't be upset.
JE: It's an asset to any house.
KN: George Clooney has one.
JE: Is that true?
KN: Yeah. He's got two. So I would hug them. I would hug the pigs.
So. You've walked in on your roommate in the shower, and they're butt naked. What do you do?
KN: Depends. Is the person of the opposite sex or the same sex?
BuzzFeed: Both situations.
KN: Opposite sex I'd keep staring, I mean, that's not an issue.
KN: This interview is written, isn't it? So sarcasm doesn't translate.
BuzzFeed: We can put sarcasm in italics?
KN: Please, so I don't look like a total dick.
JE: OK, so when you walk in are you doing it because it's accidental?
KN: Yeah, you can't hear the shower, you walk in to use the restroom. I mean, if you're comfortable you could use the restroom whilst they're showering. If it's a new roommate then say "Hi, I sincerely apologise" and you leave.
JE: That's right.
OK, here's a weird one: You find out that your roommate has turned your favourite book into a bong.
JE: I literally thought you were gonna say: "Turned your favourite book into a movie." That's a great idea. That would be a really nice thing. While you were out I made a movie of your favourite book. Confederacy of Dunces? Fantastic, when did you do it? This afternoon.
KN: What book is it?
BuzzFeed: Let's say it was Infinite Jest.
KN: Why would they just smoke up my knowledge?
JE: Wait, somebody turned Infinite Jest into a bong?
BuzzFeed: Yep. They wrote about it on Vice.
JE: That's funny.
What if you become hopelessly in love with your roommate?
KN: You gotta tell 'em.
JE: You gotta move out.
KN: You would move out? Why wouldn't you tell them?
JE: I don't know. I try and avoid anything.
KN: I would tell them. Why not? How will they ever know that you love them?
BuzzFeed: What if they don't feel the same?
KN: Then you kick them out. Love is more important than money.
JE: But only by a little bit.
KN: Yeah, exactly.
JE: It's like, almost tied.
KN: That's the funniest thing you've ever said.
Your roommate's parent is a super-famous director and you really want them to read your script. How long do you wait before you ask for the favour?
JE: I would say night one. "Really nice to meet you. Here's my script." I mean, speaking as my character now, I'd probably, like, lure that person in through a series of, like, very complicated and seemingly innocuous but ultimately very dangerous traps and then confront them with the script in a way they never expected. If people see this play they'll probably realise how I would confront them.
OK, last one. Warning: This is a bit gross and it happened to a friend of mine. You find out that your roommate has been using your pan to clean their moon cup.
JE + KN (at the same time): What's a moon cup?
Helpful PR fills the men in. Meanwhile, Alfie Allen, who has been lying in front of the window like a cat, sits up.
Alfie Allen: My roommate used boiling water in a saucepan to put her dildo in it. She said boiling water kills bacteria.
KN: So am I using the pan every day to make eggs and stuff?
KN: Well, if they're using boiling water then it would kill the… Yeah, I wouldn't be so grossed out.
JE: Didn't you say, eating in India, you're constantly boiling water because you'd otherwise get stomach problems?
JE: It's all fine.
KN: Put anything in there.