Saturday, September 15, 2007


photo: Doug Hamilton

Shallow and thoroughly unconvincing, Scarcity is set in the kind of lower middle class home where stinking drunk Dad and world weary chainsmoking Mom scream at each other when they're not going at it like rabbits in earshot of the kids. Dad's one beer away from giving the eleven year old daughter the bad touch, while Mom is yanking the chain of his best friend in order to stock the kitchen with groceries. We're told that the rageaholic teenaged son is exceptionally bright but we see no evidence of it, except that he's well aware that the interest a female teacher has taken in him has more to do with his crotch than his brains. All of this ugliness is meant to strike us as hard and truthful, but it's just ugly, a Jerry Springer Show for middlebrows. Since the playwright hasn't done it, it's up to the actors to provide any illusion of humanity, and for the most part they do although it's not enough to redeem the play: Kristen Johnson is especially vivid and finds a way to maintain a hint of maternal warmth underneath a coarse exterior; The Squid And The Whale's Jesse Eisenberg sometimes pushes too hard but is a compelling stage presence; Michael T. Weiss, in a woefully underwritten role, conveys the wounded pride under a broken spirit.

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