Lawrence Harbison, The Playfixer, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on BAUER, RED EYE OF LOVE, THE WAYSIDE MOTOR IN, BOYS AND GIRLS and BASTARDS OF STRINDBERG.

I have always felt that one of the marks of a really good play is that there’s a story there that needed to be told. Such a play is Bauer by Lauren Gunderson, at 59 E 59 Theatres, about a great 20th Century artist named Rudolf Bauer, who has languished for decades in the dustbin of history.

Bauer, an old man now, living in America and dying, is visited by his estranged former lover Hilla von Rebay, a wealthy baroness, a gifted painter herself and former curator of Solomon Guggenheim’s vast art collection. It was she who built the Guggenheim Museum to house Bauer’s paintings, and it was she who negotiated a contract whereby Guggenheim would own all of Bauer’s future works in exchange for a house, a car, and a yearly stipend. As a result, Bauer has been unable to paint for 13 years. Why does Hilla, from whom Bauer has been estranged for those 13 years, arrive back in his life now? What does she want? This is the gist of Gunderson’s fascinating play.

The production is first-rate, directed by Bill English, with Sherman as Bauer, Stacy Ross as Hilla and Susi Damilano as Bauer’s wife, Louise. Several times, kinetic projections of Bauer’s paintings appear on the set, designed by Micah J. Stieglitz, which are spectacularly rendered.

This one’s a don’t-miss.

On the other hand, you could skip Red Eye of Love, at the Dicapo Opera Theatre, a musical version of Arnold Weinstein’s 1961 play which was, in its day, considered to be an early example of American absurdism. It’s about a meat magnate, a goofy young man with dreams of becoming a doll designer, and the woman they both love.

John Wulp has adapted Weinstein’s play, making it seem imitative of cornball musical comedy of the 1920’s and Sam Davis’ music is a pastiche of styles of that period. Instead of charming, the whole enterprise just seems silly, though the performers are wonderful. Alli Mauzey practically channels Bernadette Peters circa Dames at Sea, and Josh Grisetti is wonderfully goofy as the young lead.

But in the end, Red Eye of Love just seems hopelessly old-fashioned.

A.R. Gurney is in residence at Signature this season (at long last), which has brought back his 1977 play, The Wayside Motor Inn. It’s set in a generic motel room near Boston. Gurney’s brilliant trick here is to tell several different stories, all happening simultaneously. In different rooms for them, in one room for us. There’s an elderly couple about to visit their daughter and their first grandchild, a sleazy salesman, a  college age couple there for a night of sex, a couple who are divorcing and a father dragging his recalcitrant son to an interview which might help get him into Harvard. It’s brought off wonderfully, helped by Lila Neugebauer’s tight direction and a wonderful cast comprised of veterans like Marc Kudisch, Jon Devries and Lizbeth MacKay, and fine young up and comers such as Ismenia Mendes and David McElwee as the young couple and Will Pullen as the kid who doesn’t think Harvard’s for him.

This one’s a don’t-miss.

Boys and Girls, part of the 1st Irish Festival, at 59 E 59, is a lyrical hodgepodge of monologues by Dylan Coburn Gray, wherein four young people, 2 men and two women, recount the sexual adventures. Gray’s language is very musical, often poetic, and the actors are very engaging. The play laid an egg with the mostly elderly audience the evening I attended, but if you’re a millennial and part of the hookup culture yourself you might dig seeing yourself on stage.

A group called the Scandinavian American Theatre Company has commissioned for playwrights – two Americans and two Swedes – to write short plays in response to Strindberg’s Miss Julie, and the result is Bastards of Strindberg at the Lion Theatre. Only one of the plays is at all interesting, Dominique Morisseau’s High Powered, about a black couple, part of the so-called 99% of people the rich are leaving behind. Between each play, the actors are made to dance, hop around and generally move weirdly to music. It’s insufferably artsy-fartsy.

You could skip Bastards of Strindberg.

BAUER. 59 E 59 Theatres, 59 E. 59th St.

Tickets: or 212-279-4200

RED EYE OF LOVE. Dicapo Opera Theatre, 184 E. 76th St.

Tickets: or 212-868-4444

THE WAYSIDE MOTOR INN. Signature Center, 480 W. 42nd St.

Tickets: 212-244-7529

BOYS AND GIRLS. 59 E 59 Theatres, 59 E. 59th St.

Tickets: or 212-279-4200

BASTARDS OF STRINDBERG. Lion Theatre, 410 W. 42nd St.

Tickets: or 212-239-6200

For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail:

“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 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” 

                                                                                    — Theodore Roosevelt