Hensley plays Charlie, a morbidly obese shut-in whose health is fading fast. He refuses to go to the hospital—it’s hard enough for him to get off the couch, or reach for the remote—but he does have frequent visitors. Mormon missionary Elder Thomas thinks he can save Michael’s soul, while Liz, a nurse whose late brother was Michael’s partner, thinks she can heal Michael’s illness. Michael’s ex-wife Mary berates him for all his past failings, while their teenage daughter Ellie verbally abuses him because of the pathetic man he’s become. It’s not the most supportive group, but they’re the only ones willing to step inside Michael’s smelly apartment and watch him wheeze and sweat and suck down gallons of Dr Pepper.
Against this backdrop, Playwrights Horizons is presenting Detroit, a new play by downtown stalwart Lisa D’Amour, directed by Anne Kauffman. With its action set in a suburb outside a mid-sized American city—“[n]ot necessarily Detroit”—D’Amour juxtaposes the specific fate of Motor City against the allegorical space of Anycity, USA, recalling the chilling prophesy of former Detroit mayor Coleman Young: “Detroit today is your town tomorrow.”(1)
Gionfriddo finds plenty of laughs with a set-up that's both ridiculous and sublime. She knows her way around a funny line, and puts many of them into the mouth of Avery (Virginia Kull), Gwen's former babysitter and the only other student who signs up for Catherine's class.
Playwright Gina Gionfriddo asks, in her new play, 'Rapture, Blister, Burn,' and her life: What do women want?
When politely confronted with the evidence that a new Off-Broadway play and an episode for Netflix’s upcoming series “House of Cards” might not exactly constitute taking it easy, Gionfriddo demurred. Of Rapture, she said that she went to the first rehearsals and then dropped away until tech. To write the TV script, which helped her keep her health insurance, she said she did require full time childcare, but only for a month. Her caregivers of choice: “Unemployed actresses. My baby loves them so much. I have a bunch of them. When they get auditions I can call another one.”
The play charms at first, especially since the early scenes are directed at a rapid clip by Sam Gold and played with casual sarcasm by Cameron Scoggins and Phoebe Strole. But the exhausting pace can’t last the whole evening—it’d be like watching a flip-book for 90 minutes—and once The Big Meal slows down, it loses its distinctiveness.
From the playwright behind Sundance hit 'Bachelorette,' a new and biting tale of assistants to an evil, unseen boss
We've already seen plenty of stories about horrible bosses (Horrible Bosses, for instance) but Assistance manages to feel fresh. Perhaps it's because while most similar stories focus on the antagonism between the big wigs and the wide-eyed peons whom they torture, here the focus remains exclusively on the interactions between the people at the very bottom of the corporate ladder. In fact, the boss—a mogul whose exact occupation is never revealed—is never seen or heard. Imagine The Devil Wears Prada if it didn't need the devil to work. Or the Prada.
Playing a bundle of neuroses is the specialty of Marin Ireland, who played a similarly tightly wound character last year in Lisa Kron's In the Wake. But she channels her inner June Cleaver with surprising ease: Her shoulders drop, her posture straightens, and a calm expression spreads over her face. Katha doesn't quite become a Stepford wife, but only because she has chosen for herself to be the perfect housewife.
There’s a lot of science in Itamar Moses’s play. It’s all explained well enough, but sometimes it feels like sitting through an A.P. class. What keeps it from getting too cerebral is the emotional and very human rhythm of the romance, sometimes synchronous, sometimes adversarial.
The playwright's After the Revolution made a splash last year at Playwrights Horizons (I reviewed it here in November); and there, too, a grandparent and grandchild are tasked to find common ground when politics clash. But where After the Revolution served as a rather large interrogation of 90's politics, 4000 Miles, now playing at the Duke on 42nd, is a smaller play about a particular relationship.
This isn’t a tale of a great, undiscovered band that didn’t get the big break it deserved. This is a tale of a band that had no business being a band. Their tragedy wasn’t not making it to the big time; their tragedy was making it to the stage at all.
Toward the beginning of David Greenspan’s Go Back To Where You Are, you might think you’ve stumbled into a Terrence McNally play. The group of good-looking people milling about on the deck of a vacation house seem straight out of Lips Together, Teeth Apart or Love! Valour! Compassion!
Greenspan certainly knows his McNally (as an actor, he was impressive several seasons back in McNally’s Some Men). He takes a typical McNally set-up—a gathering of friends, all of whom are mourning lost loved ones—and almost immediately casts side any pretense of naturalism when one character says directly to the audience. “My name is Bernard. I’m one of the characters—obviously—in the play.”
In Kin, a new play by Bathsheba Doran, nuclear families have been torn apart—not obliterated completely, but damaged by death, divorce, and distance. Filling those gaps are friends, lovers and ex-lovers, even animals. Adjunct English professor Anna (Kirsten Bush) is being dumped by a member of the senior faculty as the play opens: “Maybe I don’t know what I’m looking for, but I know it’s not you,” he tells her.
The play is mostly a misfire, little more than a character sketch of a group of sketchy characters. At the center is Emily (Michele Pawk), the tough-as-nails owner of a construction company. When her husband dismisses her misgivings about their daughter’s upcoming marriage, she begins to take leave of her senses. (Whether the problem is medical or psychological is never clear, as Emily rarely consults doctor, even when she eventually goes blind. This course of action doesn’t occur to anyone else in the play, either.)
Edward Albee’s play about a child whose very existence is in doubt has finally made it to New York.
We’re not talking about Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? or The Play About the Baby, although it’s true that those earlier works cover similar ground. This time it’s Me, Myself and I, which premiered a few years back in Princeton but is only now being staged on this side of the Hudson at Playwrights Horizons.