Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Is He Dead?

photo: Joan Marcus

The premise of this farce, which has the painter Millet faking his own death in order to drive up the value of his artworks, doesn't lead to anything substantive about art and commerce; it's just an excuse to have a guy run around in a dress. It's easy to smile watching the seasoned farceurs in the cast (David Pittu and Byron Jennings, for instance - both deliciously hammy) and there probably isn't a director alive who knows as well as Michael Blakemore how to guide a cast in and out of slamming doors and mistaken identities. Yet the star clown here - Norbert Leo Butz - is an odd choice for this kind of thing: he gets by on the naughty-boy likeability that served him so well in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, but he's in a different play than everyone else. It's likely that the sore thumb casting is intentional to put some extra zip in the so-so slow-to-get-going first act, but I couldn't help but wonder what someone like Jefferson Mays could do with the part.

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