Thursday, November 11, 2010

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

I've read the reviews, and it's hard to argue with them. Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is indeed sloppy, uneven, and unfocused. The score by David Yazbek is only amiable. The book by Jeffrey Lane is a pale copy of the movie. The production adds up to much ado about . . . not much.

Just I thing: I really enjoyed it.

Women on the Verge
zips from scene to scene and song to song, the wind in its metaphysical hair. Most of the songs entertain at least a little, and some quite a lot. Director Bartlett Sher, as always, brings every inch of the stage to life, and with the ever-changing projections, Women on the Verge feels like a unusual and invigorating amusement park ride. Patti LuPone shines in a supporting role, bringing humor and pathos to the poor, abandoned, crazy wife she plays, and she nails her solo, "Invisible." Laura Benanti is adorable, running on the balls of her feet from scene to scene, not too bright but completely good-hearted. Brian Stokes Mitchell is underutilized, but it's always a pleasure to hear his voice--and looking at him doesn't hurt either. Justin Guarini plays the befuddled son with the perfect amount of befuddlement. On the other hand, Sherie Rene Scott, in the lead role, doesn't register--rather than coming across as the calm eye of the storm, she seems disengaged, bringing little energy to her songs and less to her acting.

Overall, Women on the Verge is so uneven, and shows so much promise, that it's surprising opening night wasn't delayed a couple of weeks. There is a solid show in there, and I believe that Sher, Lane, and Yazbek would have found it. Instead, the Women on the Verge that did open is a mess.

I hope I get to see it again.


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