Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Collection & A Kind of Alaska **

Lovers of the pregnant pause, rejoice! Pinter's back in town with two quite different one-act plays at the Atlantic Theater. The Collection, from 1961, follows the repercussions of an adulterous act which may or may not have taken place. Bill (Matt McGrath), a dress designer who was saved from the slums by his older roommate Harry (Larry Bryggman), may have had a one-night fling with Stella (Rebecca Henderson), James' wife. James (Darren Pattie) menaces Bill to find out the truth and Harry visits Stella to hear her version. There is a sensual undercurrent between James and Bill and class tension between Harry and everyone else. The stylish split set is very effective and the costumes, especially Bill's over-the-top wardrobe, go a long way to create the characters. The dialogue is wittily absurd. It's a pleasant hour with no pretense of profundity. A Kind of Alaska, inspired by Oliver Sacks' book Awakenings, describes what happens when a teenage girl awakens from a 29-year coma. Lisa Emery stunningly captures the anguish of the confused girl/woman. Bryggman and Henderson as her doctor and sister don't have much chance to shine. While I was moved by Emery's big scene, I thought the rest of the play was rather flat. Karen Kohlhaas directed both plays.

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