Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. This week, Larry tells you about FREUD’S LAST SESSION, SEE ROCK CITY & OTHER DESTINATIONS, FALLING FOR EVE, THE IRISH AND HOW THEY GOT THAT WAY, BACHELORETTE, WOLVES, WITH GLEE, IN GOD’S HAT and THE CAPEMAN.
Mark St. Germain’s Freud’s Last Session, currently at The Margery S. Deane Little Theatre in the West Side YMCA, imagines a meeting in London between the cancer-ridden Sigmund Freud and the Oxford don C.S. Lewis during the early days of the Blitz. This is a pretext for a debate about religion, during which the arguments pro and con for the existence of God are laid out. This sounds pretty dry, but it’s not. St. Germain knows how to create compelling conflict and his dialogue is often very witty. You won’t come away with your mind changed, but you will enjoy yourself if you go to this. Tyler Marchant’s direction is perfectly, subtly understated, and his two actors, Martin Raynor as Freud and Mark H. Dold as Lewis are terrific.
The Transport Group’s musical at the Duke Theatre, See Rock City & Other Destinations by Adam Matthias (book & lyrics) and Brad Alexander (music), AT THE Duke Theatre, is basically a series of ten-minute plays about people visiting unusual tourist destinations in the U.S. All are ultimately about loneliness.
When you enter the Duke Theatre you are confronted by an empty space, save for a huge pile of lawn chairs. Just before the show begins, the cast members come out, disassemble the lawn chair mountain and set the chairs up in rows around the periphery of the room. This reinforces the themes of impermanence we are about to experience, but it also addS extra time to the event. It seemed to me an unnecessary contrivance.
I loved the little playlets, though; and the songs are lovely. The performers are are mighty fine. This one’s definitely worth a visit.
The York Theatre Co. has on view a charming take on the Garden of Eden story, a new musical called Falling for Eve. Book writer Joe DiPietro imagines God as both male and female, and in his version only Eve is expelled from Eden for eating that apple. She wanders around the earth for many years before she persuades an angel to let her back into Eden to go fetch Adam.
The songs by Bret Simons (music) and David Howard (lyrics) are charming, and the performers are delightful. Jose Llana is a wonderfully hunky, rather dim Adam, and Krystal Joy Brown is delicious as Eve.
You might think, “Oh, no, not another anachronistic take on the Bible;” but go – you’ll have a good time.
Irish Rep has brought back Frank McCourt’s The Irish and How They Got That Way, which they have produced twice previously, as a sort of memorial to McCourt, the author of Angela’s Ashes, who passed away last year and who was a much beloved New York character, particularly amongst the Irish in our midst.
McCourt’s script is a documentary which begins in Ireland but winds up in America. It’s the Cliff’s Notes edition of Irish/American History, made enjoyable by McCourt’s trademark wit and director Charlotte Moore’s charming cast, who sing snippets of scads of songs, from the inevitable “Danny Boy” and “The Rose of Tralee” to “No Irish Need Apply” and “Who Put the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder?”
It’s a darlin’ time in the theatre, even if you’ve seen it before.
Leslye Headland’s Bachelorette looks to be the biggest hit Second Stage has had with its summer uptown series at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. It’s been extended until the end of the month, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it resurfaces later this season in a commercial venue.
Although there are men in the play, Bachelorette is basically a horrifying/hilarious portrait of 20-something women. We are in a swank hotel room. The Maid of Honor has invited over two of her friends who, it turns out, are not exactly friends of the bride. While we wait for the bride-to-be to show up at the party, these three women let their hair down. All three are terrified that life is passing them by. The play starts out as a bitch-fest, moves quickly into a cat fight, and ends up as potential tragedy – all in the course of 90 minutes.
One of my favorite directors, Trip Cullman, has worked his usual seamless directorial magic, and his cast is wonderful – particularly, Tracee Chimo, Elizabeth Waterston and Celia Keenan-Bolger as three lost girls partying on down a road to nowhere.
This one’s a don’t-miss.
Alas, the following have closed:
Delaney Britt Brewer’s Wolves, at 59 E. 59 Theatres, was a triptych of plays which also dealt with 20-somethings, a chilly scenes of winter sort of look at alienation and despair amongst the Next Generation, made watchable by excellent actors.
With Glee was my favorite of the Off Broadway musicals I’ve seen this summer. It was about a prep school for misfit boys, to which are sent kids to varying degrees too strange to make it anywhere else. One man and one woman played all the adults, but the young men in the cast were the Main Attractions, and all were excellent. John Gregor wrote the whole shebang and man, is he one to watch! Loved the music, loved the actors, loved Igor Goldin’s staging! Sorry you missed this one!
Richard Taylor’s In God’s Hat at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre was a trailer trash gothic sort of play about two brothers, one of whom is a convicted child molester who has just been released from prison. His brother picks him up at the prison gate, and on the way to Wherever they run into a couple of nasty skinheads. The play reminded me of Tracey Lett’s Killer Joe – and I mean that in a good way. The actors were wonderful – particularly the two guys playing the white supremacist skinheads, Dennis Flanagan and Gary Francis Hope, both of whom seemed like the Real Deal, instead of “just” actors.
Finally, I caught the last of the three performances at the Delacorte Theatre of the New York Shakespeare Festival’s staged concert version of Paul Simon’s The Capeman, a Broadway flop of a decade or so ago. Director Diane Paulus stripped away most of Derek Walcott’s ponderous, overly complex book. What remained were Simon’s wonderful songs. Paulus’ staging was terrific, as was Sergio Trujillo’s choreography. I wouldn’t be surprised if this resurfaces somewhere in the near future.
“It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry.”
—– George F. Will