The signature aspect of this Yasmina Reza play written between Tony winners, Art and God of Carnage, is articulate, ballooning confrontation. Whereas Art just maintains decorum and Carnage loses it completely, here middle ground proffers three different possibilities of the same events. A kind of string theory approach, small changes set off different reactions. The play appears to hedge its bets, neither making a specific point nor committing to characters while each gets a tad more civilized.
Claire Curtis-Ward, James Patrick Nelson
Sonia (Claire Curtis-Ward) and her husband Henri (James Patrick Nelson) are arguing about whether to cater to their demanding, out-of-sight six-year old who refuses to go to sleep. In the first vignette they actually get into a physical fight about approaches. (Sound Designer Janet Bentley makes the child sound like a toddler.) For the most part, however, this seems to be a decent marriage.
The doorbell rings. It’s Henri’s supervisor, Hubert (Dominic Comperatore) and his wife Ines (Leah Curney) who have arrived a night early for what the host couple feels is an important professional dinner and the guests have already written off. These two snipe at one another with neither respect nor affection. Hubert mocks Ines. Unbelievably, there appears to be no food in the house except biscuits and crisps which are duly offered with copious amounts of wine.
Claire Curtis-Ward, Dominic Comperatore
Henri has just completed an astronomical paper he’s been working on for three years. It’s vital to his career that he be status published. Hubert can promote this and advance his associate. Instead, the more successful man, just elected to The Academy of Science, informs Henri, in two of the three episodes, that a competitive paper about his subject got there before him.
The child never lets up, Hubert is cruel to his wife and seductive to Sonia, Sonja responds to and then rejects him, Ines gets drunk and sincerely tries to understand Henri’s theory while noting her husband’s wandering eye, Henri falls apart or strikes back and has everything under control…There’s not much here to hold one’s interest except in brief flashes.
Leah Curney (Ines) is the standout here. Manifesting nerves and the results of excess alcohol, authenticity rules. James Patrick Nelson needs to bone up on the script.
Leah Curney, James Patrick Nelson
Director Jerry Heymann could differentiate his characters more beyond what they imbibe. Use of staging area, small business, and pacing are good.
Brian Dudkiewicz’ Scenic Design fits like a glove. Pin dot stars are a nice touch as is the choice of artwork. Costumes by Genevieve V. Beller read well excepting a script call out implying Sonia’s loungewear is provocative when it couldn’t be more covered/less revealing.
Photos by Hunter Canning
Opening: Leah Curney, James Patrick Nelson, Claire Curtis-Ward, Dominic Comperatore
New Light Theater Project presents
Life x 3 by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
Directed by Jerry Heymann
Through December 8, 2018
259 West 30 Street