Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Revisionist

Jesse Eisenberg's new play, The Revisionist, seems to be a predictable exploration of familiar territory: Uneasy young man, complete with cache of weed, visits much older female relative. Add WWII memories, stir.

It is much to Eisenberg's credit, however, that The Revisionist has its surprises. Even better, it isn't an entry in the increasingly-tasteless worst-Holocaust-story-ever sweepstakes that stretches from Sophie's Choice to Red Dog Howls. (Even better than that, Eisenberg spares us a cutesy "old woman gets stoned" scene.) Instead, it is a thoughtful, sometimes funny, often moving, examination of the interactions and frictions between someone who doesn't know what he has and someone who knows exactly what she has lost.
Vanessa Redgrave, Jesse Eisenberg
Photo: Sandra Coudert

Nicely directed by Kip Fagan, and well-designed by John McDermott (set) and Jessica Pabst (costume), The Revisionist's strongest asset is its cast. Vanessa Redgrave as the old woman is excellent (duh--although her bangs and glasses make it frustratingly difficult to see her face). Eisenberg is even better as the young man. His discomfort in his own skin is vivid, as are his reluctance to give in to his better side and his ongoing sense of entitlement. (Dan Oreskes does well by a small supporting role).

Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give The Revisionist is that I keep wondering if the old woman should have done this or the young man should have done this--not if Eisenberg should have written them differently. And I'd love to know what happens next.

(press ticket, 7th row)

No comments: