Nick Payne’s Constellations, (on Broadway in 2015), poetically explored The String Theory of Quantum Physics: In layman’s terms, what happens to everything else when a single aspect of a scenario changes and is it happening simultaneously on another plane? The play’s program specified “Place: The Multiverse” = the juncture? of multiple universes. Still fascinated with questions of free will, time, memory, and the way we function, the prolific playwright/intellectual here takes the human brain as its subject. One again drama is the medium.
Four excellent actors: Geveva Carr, Charlie Cox, Heather Lind, and Morgan Spector play a multitude of characters including psychologists, scientists, patients, a lawyer, a journalist…with turn-on-a-dime American and British accents. The piece, like its predecessor, is episodic, here broken into three larger chapters: ENCODING, STORING, and RETRIEVING, each begun with robotic voguing (by Peter Pucci) and a walk around the circular staging area accompanied by spacey electronic sounds/music. (David Van Tieghem) It’s a kind of a human rondo.
Morgan Spector, Geneva Carr
Identifiable stories play through in fragments. When Albert Einstein died, Princeton pathologist Thomas Harvey, conducting his autopsy (Morgan Spector), had a carpe diem moment and, turning to the icon’s executor, asked whether he might take the brain…which ends up in the trunk of his car before being dissected and studied…to little avail.
Martha (Geneva Carr, whose natural stage presence allows her to morph with focus), the adopted granddaughter of Einstein’s son and a clinical neuropsychologist, is approached by self-serving journalist, Michael (Charlie Cox) with questions of her paternity. Might she, in fact, be Einstein’s illicit daughter? (Not so far-fetched based on evidence.) All she has to do is take a DNA sample from Einstein’s brain to find out. That is, when Michael tracks it down.
Heather Lind, Geneva Carr
The intrepid headline hound convinces Doctor Harvey to accompany him cross country with a piece of the brain in order to see Einstein’s daughter –no love lost there – Evelyn (Carr), and request that sample. They drive. (How is one to airline check a brain fragment?)
Martha is, for the first time, exploring a gay relationship with Patricia (Heather Lind with a butch persona), also an adopted child, who would like her to help a lawyer friend (Spector) with professional testimony in a murder trial.
Anthony (a credibly on-the-verge Spector) is in and out of therapy (including with a compassionate but helpless Martha) and on Dagwood combinations of medication… rendering him impotent. About to embark on his honeymoon, he stops his meds, is fine for several days, then strangles his new bride to death, remembering nothing.
Heather Lind, Charlie Cox
Henry’s (a wonderfully innocent and touching Charlie Cox) amnesiac brain is poorly wired, though whether before or after an operation is unclear. His attention span is three to four thoughts, then everything starts fresh. The patient’s fiancé Margaret (Heather Lind) tries patiently (and palpably) to help, especially wanting him to regain his music, but gives up in despair. Doctors change over time…until Martha appears, triggering a moment of clarity/progress or, perhaps, just in the right place at the right time.
I’m sure I’ve left people and connections out. All four actors are top notch, but this is an impressionistic piece. Emotions are felt only in passing except perhaps those provoked by Henry who appears throughout. The mechanism we call brain retains its secrets.
Director Doug Hughes brings what humanity he can to the passing parade, keeps things moving and characters from becoming static.
Ben Stanton’s Lighting, Scott Pask’s minimal Set and Catherine Zuber’s grey-tone costumes collectively create an ephemeral canvas.
Photos by Joan Marcus
Opening: Geneva Carr (back), Morgan Spector, Heather Lind, Charlie Cox
Manhattan Theatre Club presents
Incognito by Nick Payne
Directed by Doug Hughes
City Center Stage 1
151 West 55th Street
Through July 10, 2016
As the countdown continues to the eagerly anticipated second season of Netflix’s critically acclaimed streaming series Daredevil, let’s take a moment to appreciate one of the secrets to the show’s success; it’s knockout cast. Here’s what they’ve done before (and since!) bringing the grittier side of the Marvel Universe to life.
Charlie Cox Before mesmerizing us as Matt Murdock, Charlie Cox unsuccessfully pursued Lady Mary on Downton Abbey (above), played Lorenzo in The Merchant of Venice, got romantic in Casanova, got entangled with gangsters in Boardwalk Empire, and formed a romantic triangle with Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He’s next scheduled to appear in the vampire action/horror movie Eat Local.
Vincent D’Onofrio His take on Wilson “The Kingpin Fisk was absolutely revelatory, but of course he’s had a very long and varied career before that. He first really came to public attention as the mentally disturbed Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket. This was followed by memorable turns in such films as Mystic Pizza, JFK, Feeling Minnesota, Men in Black, The Newton Boys, Steal This Movie, The Cell, Thumbsucker, and most recently Jurassic World. Not to mention his many, many years as Bobby Goren on Law and Order: Criminal Intent (above). He will be seen next in the tv series Emerald City as the Wizard, and has also been cast in Antoine Fuqua’s remake of The Magnificent Seven.
Deborah Ann Woll She may be Karen Page on Daredevil, but to many Deborah will always be Jessica the baby vamp sired by Bill on True Blood (above). Deborah also played Paul Dano’s former flame in Ruby Sparks and starred opposite Bruce Willis in Catch .44.
Elden Henson Before he stole our hearts as Matt’s best friend and legal partner Foggy Nelson, Elden was stealing the scenes in the 90’s teen romantic comedy She’s All That as Laney Bogg’s smart, chubby best guy friend. Elden would later be part of such films as Cast Away with Tom Hank. O with Mekhi Phifer, Julia Stiles, and Josh Hartnett. Lords of Dogtown with Heath Ledger and Emile Hirsch, and most recently the role of Pollux in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Parts 1&2 (above).
Toby Leonard Moore Chilling as Fisk’s right hand man Wesley, Moore’s played bad guys before such as Russian thug Victor in John Wick. He can currently be seen on the Showtime series Billions as point man to crusading D.A. Chuck Rhodes (above, right, with Paul Giamatti).
Eyelet Zurer Israeli actress Ayelet made quite an impression as beautiful gallery owner Vanessa who becomes Wilson Fisk’s love interest. Before she stealing D’Onofrio’s heart though, she played wife to Mossad agent Avner Kaufman (Eric Bana) in Munich, a terrorist in Vantage Point, love interest to Tom Hanks in Angels & Demons, and biological mother to Superman in Man of Steel. She’s set to play the role of Naomi in the latest remake of Ben Hur (above) alongside Jack Huston in the title role and Toby Kebbel as Massala.
Vondie Curtis-Hall It was Vondie’s performance that made us feel the pain of Ben Urich’s loss. Not surprising considering the career he’s had that began with a cameo in Coming to America. He starred as Dr. Dennis Hancock on Chicago Hope and was featured in such films as Eve’s Bayou, Romeo + Juliet, Heaven’s Prisoners, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Cymbeline. He also wrote, directed, and performed in the cult black comedy-drama Gridlock’d. His most recent work includes a guest appearance on Rosewood, and the upcoming Breaking Brooklyn (above).
Rosario Dawson The stunning Rosario has now appeared on two Netflix streaming series (Daredevil and Jessica Jones) as Claire Temple nurse to superheroes but the actress/singer has been a leading lady of Hollywood for a long, long time. She made her debut in the controversial indie film Kids and went on to do He Got Game, Sidewalks of New York, 25th Hour, Sin City, Unstoppable, Trance, and Gimme Shelter. She’s currently filming the thriller Unforgettable (above) alongside Kathryn Heigl and Cheryl Ladd.
Bob Gunston Wilson’s slimeball lawyer Leland Owsly has one of the longest resumes in Hollywood with credits going back to 1981. He’s best known for his work playing the corrupt warden in The Shawshank Redemption, General Harker in Glory, and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance in Argo (above).
And now to look at some new names who will be appearing in Season 2…
Jon Bernthal Currently best known for playing Shane on The Walking Dead, Bernthal will be joining the cast of Daredevil as Frank Castle aka The Punisher. He’s also been in The Wolf of Wall Street and Sicario. Bernthal will be appearing in the upcoming Ben Affleck thriller The Accountant.
Elodie Yung French-Cambodian actress Elodie will be playing Matt’s infamous Greek assassin love interest Electra ( above, who was hinted at in Season 1.) While she’s been a star in her native France for many years, her first major role in a English language film was Lisbeth Salander’s love interest Miriam Wu in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. She then went on to play ninja Jinx in G.I. Joe: Retaliation and goddess Hathor in Gods of Egypt.
Stephen Rider is set to play crusading D.A Blake Tower in the second season. Notable work in the past includes The Great Debaters, Safe House, and The Butler (above).
Daredevil’s Season 2 is available March 18, 2016, on Netflix.
Top photo: Bigstock