Monday, May 17, 2010

Oliver Parker!

Photo: The Shaltzes/Photographers

Elizabeth Meriwether's Oliver Parker! tries to be both funny and significant but its contrived situations and unconvincing characters work against both goals. Seventeen-year-old Oliver (Michael Zegen) and sixty-year-old Jasper (John Laroquette) have a bizarre relationship that turns out to be built on a deep secret. However, the play fails to explain sufficiently why they are friends--or why they have anything to do with each other at all. Oliver's aim in life is to get laid; Jasper's aim in life is to die. Both of these are treated as humorous but neither is particularly funny. Enter (separately) a grief-stricken senator with a drug problem and her aide, neither of whom would have stayed in that apartment five minutes, let alone become involved in the ways they become involved. John Larroquette does what he can with a strange role, Johanna Day is convincingly heart-broken, and Monica Raymund lights up the stage with energy and humor. Michael Zegen is annoying as Oliver, but that may just mean that he's playing the part well. Awkwardly directed by Evan Cabnet.

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