Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Marie and Bruce
My friend Dennis was an usher at the Public Theater when Wallace Shawn's Marie and Bruce opened there in 1980. He despised the show. He said it was hateful and ugly. Dennis and I often disagreed, so when I had a chance to see the revival of Marie and Bruce, I decided to give it a try. That Marissa Tomei (pictured) was cast as Marie made it an easy decision.
Dennis was being kind. From its stupidly coarse opening sentence, Marie and Bruce is a crass and juvenile--and unsuccessful--attempt at being shockingly funny.
The story, such as it is: Marie is planning to leave Bruce. She berates him with strings of expletives. He largely shrugs her off. They go to a party. They drink too much. He calls her a cunt. They go to a cafe. A guy at the next table tells an endless story of digestive troubles, in vivid detail. Bruce asks the guy to shut up but backs down when the guy's friend threatens him. Bruce and Marie fight some more.
This takes about 140 painfully boring minutes.
Other problems: Scott Elliott's direction is sluggish at best. There is no reason for Marie and Bruce to be together in the first place--and less reason to care. Marissa Tomei provides an unusually weak performance. Frank Whaley as Bruce is little more than a stick figure. There isn't a genuine moment in the whole show.
This is a tedious production of an execrable play. The overall effect is of being forced to spend nearly two hours with a creepy 13-year-old boy who thinks it is cool to curse and make sexually inappropriate comments while he pulls the wings off flies.
(Press tickets, unfortunately in the theatre.)