Saturday, October 23, 2010

Middletown *

When Will Eno's one-man play Thom Pain (about nothing) opened off-Broadway in 2005, it received rapturous reviews, a Pulitzer nomination, and a year-long run. For me, all it offered was 70 of the longest, deadliest minutes I have ever spent in a theater. Even though his new play Middletown, now in previews at the Vineyard Theatre has already been awarded the initial Horton Foote prize for Promising New American Play, I still would not have ventured anywhere near it had it not been part of my Vineyard subscription. It started well enough with a long, amusing salutation to the audience, but rapidly went downhill for me. It's an absurdirst, somewhat surreal, faux-folksy pastiche of life in a small town. The characters are poorly drawn and their relationships are feebly developed. Our Town it's not! My companion fled at intermission. Only my loyalty to you, dear readers, kept me in my seat for Act II. I wish I could say it got better, but, if anything, it got worse. Call me a Philistine, but I just don't get the acclaim for Will Eno. I predict that the critics will fall over themselves to praise Middletown, but don't be fooled.

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