Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Black Tie

Photo: James Leynse

In A.R. Gurney's stilted, unconvincing play Black Tie, middle-aged Curtis is thrilled at the prospect of wearing dinner clothes and giving a traditional speech at the rehearsal dinner for his son's wedding; however, his future daughter-in-law Maya has other ideas. Through this not-particularly-compelling conflict, Black Tie ostensibly explores changing contemporary mores, but Curtis's cluelessness and bellowing are straight out of a late-20th-century sitcom. Even worse, we never see Maya, so there is a gaping hole where the play might be. The characters we do see are thinly drawn--when a ghost is the most complex character, something is off-balance. The occasional political references seem random and make Black Tie neither more meaningful nor more interesting. Mark Lamos directs the show with big takes and overdone business. Of the performers, only Ari Brand as the son manages to sound like an actual human being. Gregg Edelman as Curtis gives a one-note performance and his inverted-S posture is annoying and wrong for the role.

(Reviewer's comp; eighth row on the aisle.)

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