Saturday, March 22, 2008

Something You Did

In previews; opens 4/1.

I respect Primary Stages for trying to open the doors to a younger audience, but they rushed into a quaint show about as full as packing bubbles with last month's Hunting and Gathering, and now they've stumbled into an unfeeling drama that reminds me of a Mitch Hedburg one-liner: "I'm against picketing, but I don't know how to show it." My primary complaint with Something You Did is Carolyn Cantor's direction, which theatrically gets things off on the wrong foot and never regains its balance: Why do maximum security visitations take place in the library? And why does this (presumably indoor) library have a barbed-wired fence? My secondary complaint is with Willy Holtzman's shallow caricatures: Uneeq (Portia), the attitudinal black female cop; Arthur (Jordan Charney), the rotund, smug, and glib lawyer; and Gene (Victor Slezak), an unfathomable asshole who writes provocative op-eds like "All African-Americans Should Be Thankful for Slavery" and is anything but grounded in fact. (OK, well that last character's about as a real as any newscaster on FOX.) Alison (Joanna Gleason), jailed thirty years ago for a explosive protest gone wrong, is a relic of the past, stilted and upright, is fighting for a cause that post-9/11 America must condemn as terrorism. Her musty idealism shines for a few moments here and there, specifically when she tries to apologize to Lenora (Adriana Lenox), daughter of the cop she inadvertently killed, but on the whole, this play is a well-crafted, well-intentioned shrug of a play. Where's the shrapnel?

[Also blogged by: Patrick]

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