Sunday, November 30, 2008

Road Show

photo: Joan Marcus

Now scarcely longer than 95 minutes, Sondheim's oft-reworked musical about the fortunes of the Mizner brothers remains maddeningly unfocused: even the score's most accomplished songs don't resonate without a strong narrative theme to organize them. We watch one brother rise to fame and fortune as the other falls from it, but none of it means anything to us since neither character stands for anything. This conceit of this John Doyle-directed production, which keeps the ensemble on stage to tell or stand witness to the story, may be close in spirit to show's early incarnation at NYTW years ago, but it keeps the characters at an emotional distance from us and emphasizes just how thin the story is. Michael Cerveris makes some interesting choices as Wilson, the more baldly manipulative brother - I would rather have seen the show told from his perspective, even though his huckster character generally seems like something out of Kander & Ebb - but all else on stage is a dull, beige blur.

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