Friday, March 20, 2009

Last Chances

My lovely wife and I divided and conquered last night, each seeing plays that are closing this weekend. She saw Barksdale’s “Children of a Lesser God,” which she loved. Though she had accolades for each of the actors, she took particular notice of the direction of the production. To paraphrase what she said to me, I think it’s a play where overly busy direction could potentially muck things up. Mr. Miller does a fine job of realizing a clear, straightforward vision.

I went to “Rabbit Hole” at the Firehouse which, let’s be honest, is kind of a hard play to watch. But there is some great work going on in this production and, particularly if you are an actor, this is the kind of production you really should take in. I enjoyed the work of the supporting players especially. Marta Rainer is bracingly human as Izzy, flawed and funny but completely organic in the play’s challenging scenes. Similarly, Jacob Pennington does a wonderful job as a high school senior; like Ms. Rainer and Linda Beringer who plays Nat, he is just startlingly real here. He is geeky without being pathetic and his long scene with Jennifer Massey’s Becca could have gone on forever as far as I’m concerned.

I had a harder time with Massey and Ben Baker as Howie. I concede that these are incredibly hard roles to play. There is some tension written into the play in that, though you empathize with these characters, neither of them is particularly empathetic. I guess I would have liked to see a little more positive chemistry between them in the midst of the obvious prickliness that is predominant throughout the play. But, having said that, both of these actors had some great moments. The reaction Baker’s Howie has to a mistake by Becca early on is epic and provides a great window into his character. And Massey does wonders with her navigation of the transitions Becca makes in the second act.

All in all, it was a very solid production with many fantastic moments that I would certainly recommend, with the caveat that the underlying subject matter – the death of a child – might be a deal-killer for some folks.

USA Today had an interesting review of the new “West Side Story” on Broadway that complains about the lyrics in Spanish. Hm. I saw the picture of the gorgeous Josefina Scaglione that intrigued me enough to read through this profile that was in the Wall Street Journal back in January. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more of Ms. Scaglione in the years to come.

Have a great weekend!

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