Wednesday, June 13, 2007

In A Dark Dark House

photo: Joan Marcus

There's so much that is right and strong in Neil Labute's new one-act that what goes wrong is especially frustrating. When the play is focused (as it is most of the time) on the damaged dynamic between the two brothers, it's engrossing and among Labute's most psychologically astute work. (This being Labute, you already know that theirs is an explosive, testosterone-pumped dynamic and that a heart-to-heart is unimaginable). As a dialoguist, Labute is in great form, rendering the brothers' pained, dysfunctional relationship with a cold, clear eye and a keenly tuned ear. The layers peel away incrementally until we see and well understand why these two men behave as they do with each other. But as a dramatist, Labute goes at least one plot twist too far in pursuit of moral anbiguity, and it's not credible. (And although we don't know the final twists until the play's last moments, we can feel that Labute is laying the path for them in the second of the play's three scenes, and we're the wrong kind of on edge.) The play is well worth seeing anyway, especially as this production serves it very well, with a compelling, hard-to-shake performance by Frederick Weller among its virtues.

Also blogged by: [David] [Aaron]

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