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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The American Dream/The Sandbox

Photo/Jaisen Crockett

In the first half of The American Dream, Edward Albee's revival of two of his early and absurd one-acts, the first thing you'll notice is probably the color scheme: a red and blue chair, divided by a love seat, with a faded background of American stripes and bars, looking more like a circus prison than wallpaper. That's all fitting, for Mommy (Judith Ivey) and Daddy (George Bartenieff) are -- though they seem tame at first -- animals, living, breathing embodiments of that savage (and soon to be savaged) American Dream. However, the ensuing eighty minutes of awkward pronouncements ("I just giggled and blushed and got sticky wet") have aged about as well as the emasculated, shuffling Daddy: they have little impact. Part of this is the acting, which is either wooden itself (granted, Lois Markle is a last-minute replacement for Grandma) or as paper-thin as the character: as Young Man, who is literally the American Dream, Harmon Walsh bears a huge responsibility on his shoulders, but he neither snuffs out his emotions nor instills the character with a sense of strength, and this leaves his role with a great deal of ambiguity, as does the play (which isn't even theater of the absurd at its finest). As for The Sandbox, which is shorter than the intermission preceding it, at least it and its Angel of Death (Jesse Williams) are swift.


[Also blogged by: Patrick]

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