|Unit set of the Kittredges' living room|
The revival is directed by Trip Cullman and is generally well-cast. Allison Janney's Ouisa is wonderful -- she's funny, admirable and pathetic all at once. Janney is also the best at making some of the more portentous parts of the play read naturally. John Benjamin Hickey's Flan was appropriately nebbish. The Kids (Colby Minifie as Tess, Keenan Jolliff as Woody, Ned Riseley as Ben) were funny but overly broad in their characterization. They also need to stop shouting/screeching their lines -- they were really eardrum-piercing. James Cusati-Moyer as the Hustler looked nice even in the Full Monty. Peter Mark Kendall (Rick) and Sarah Mezzanotte (Elizabeth) as the young couple Paul REALLY fleeces had brief roles but were very touching.
|Paul and his marks, photo @ Joan Marcus|
If there's a weak link to the revival it's Corey Hawkins' Paul. Maybe he will grow as the previews progress but right now he comes across as one note -- too overtly glib, his contempt for his marks apparent throughout. Most master con artists are more subtle, and use a disarming sense of humor and humility rather than the hard-sell and swagger. (Then again Donald Trump did get elected so ...) Also, a big theme of the play is that Paul and Ouisa form a genuine if odd bond. The long phone call towards the end of the play is supposed to illustrate this. I didn't see that bond last night. Paul still came across as a desperate hustler, and as a result the finale had a somewhat muted impact.
But as I said it's only the second preview and I'm sure the production will gel more in time. But as of now, tickets can be obtained for low prices at several discount sites and this is a good revival of a good play.
Mom: "That Christine is so annoying. She knows he's a stalker and still bothers him. Why does she keep pulling off his mask? It's rude. Doesn't she have parents?"
Me: "Her dad is dead."
Mom: "She has a mother though doesn't she?"
Me: "She also kissed him at the end."
Mom: "Yeah but I can understand that. She kissed him so she could get rid of him."
Me: "Did you like this better or Cats?"
Mom: "I liked Cats better. I thought it had a better storyline. The story here is hard to follow with all the scene changes. Like one minute they're in a cemetery and the next everyone is in an opera singing."
Me: "Did you like this at all?"
Mom: "I liked the music. I didn't like Christine's (Ali Ewoldt) voice. But the stalker (she's referring to James Barbour, who plays the Phantom) has a really good voice."
Later on the train home she pulled out her smartphone and tapped me. "Oh no. James Barbour is a sex offender."