Flight attendant Ronnie Darwell—a skewered, gay Sully Sullenberger—is receiving the Presidential Medal of Valor for preventing a terrorist attack on Delta Flight 48 to Los Angeles. The erstwhile hero, questioned by the press in an outsized ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial, is alternately effusively sweet and aggressively bitchy, exercising no self-censorship. Responses to Anderson Cooper and Christiane Amanpour set a familiar context.
Playwright Paul Rudnick excels in knife sharp, reality based humor. Here he’s provided ample fodder by loading the plane with celebrities on their way to The Golden Globe Awards—look out Gwyneth and Mariah, a pompous, over demanding passenger (“I thought of him as an Aryan commando”) on whom Darwell wreaks the ultimate revenge, and a terrorist wearing wooden beads containing an explosive. “I was thinking, maybe at the beach!” he sneers.
Rudnick’s protagonist is completely credible, the situation is a riot, the play almost consistently funny. Peter Bartlett’s pitch perfect performance is delicious. Every glance and gesture is nuanced. Comedic timing couldn’t be better. And his tone…!
Director Walter Bobbie does an eloquent job. Sound Design by Nevin Steinberg adds richness.
Cabin Pressure by Paul Rudnick
Directed by Walter Bobbie
With Peter Bartlett
When their well heeled mother decides to sell the Greenwich, Connecticut manse and move to Florida, three almost thirty year-old daughters are for the first time forced out “on their own.” They descend on New York City—Annie (Sarah Corey) and Emily (Jessica Hershberg) with excitement and Charlotte (Stephanie D’Abruzzo) with trepidation. Amply funded, they respectively find fabulous apartments. “Did I mention this is a fable?” archly interjects the narrator (Edward Hibbert). Annie continues clubbing and sleeping around, Emily becomes an artist and Charlotte goes to work as accountant for the Carmelite Nuns who offer a good health plan.
In turn, each of the girls and their mother is visited and romanced by Lucas (Kevin Greene), “the perfect guy.” Only Charlotte questions him. Half way through the story, our narrator performs what appears to be a completely unrelated, pointedly annoying number which, though still obtrusive, becomes clear at the play’s end.
This is a Saturday Night Live sketch, a clever concept without adequate dramatization. Music and lyrics are both completely generic. Only the anthem “More Room for Me” is amusing and specific. The book is disjointed and sketchy, details might conceivably help make it funnier. Direction is rote.
Edward Hibbert delivers the right sarcasm but has nothing with which to work. Kevin Green has a lovely voice and fine stage presence. Sound Design is awful. The piano is so loud, one can barely hear the unmiked singers.
Love and Real Estate
Book and Lyrics-Sean Hartley
Directed by Devanand Janki
With Edward Hibbert, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Sarah Corey, Jessica Hershberg, Kevin Greene
Barry (Victor Slezak), a well dressed, middle aged man who’s recently come out, is joined at a restaurant table by his much younger lover, Jimmy (J.J. Kandel) and Jimmy’s sister Jamie (Alicia Goranson). Jimmy is a pouty wuss dressed in a pink hoodie and metallic gold sneakers. Jamie is a butch punk in a second-hand leather jacket. Having something extremely important to communicate, Barry is surprised and perturbed the boy hasn’t arrived alone. This is the first time the two have seen one another since an unresolved fight.
Coached by his angry, suspicious sister, Jimmy arrives with arms folded and mind closed. Barry grows increasingly frustrated as every response is predicated and then dictated by Jamie’s glowering whispers into her brother’s ear. Evidently having harmed her vocal chords, she doesn’t speak aloud until the situation demands interjection at which time she psychopathically erupts: furies.
Playwright Neil LaBute can turn out this kind of slight, ugly piece, peopled by the hostile and ineffective with one hand behind his back. The piece exists with a premise: Barry’s needing to extricate himself, and a situation: Jamie’s control over Jimmy. Barry and Jimmy both freeze when faced with the untenable which is frustrating (dramatically potent) and unbelievable (theatrically annoying).
The scenario is not helped by static, unimaginative direction and worse acting on the part of Alicia Goranson whose fuming silence is powerful, but whose outburst, with an inappropriate half smile, is hammy and weak. The otherwise able Victor Slezak (Barry) has only moments through no fault of his own. Michael Bevins’ costuming is significantly character enhancing.
The Furies by Neil LaBute
Directed by Stephen Hamilton
With Victor Slezak, J.J. Kandel, Alicia Goranson
Summer Shorts Series B
In Repertory with Series A Through September 1, 2012
59E59 St Theaters
Photo Credit: Rahav Iggy Segev
Love and Real Estate
Sarah Corey (floral dress), Stephanie D’Abruzzo (Grey jacket with pink dress), Kevin Greene (grey v-neck long sleeve sweater), Jessica Hershberg (glasses, dark jacket), Edward Hibbert (pink shirt and dark vest with glasses)
J.J. Kandel (grey t-shirt), Victor Slezakin (suit jacket) and Alicia Goransen