Friday, November 12, 2010

That Hopey Changey Thing ***

Richard Nelson's latest effort, now in a production directed by the playwright at The Public Theater, could serve as a bookend to Lisa Kron's "In the Wake," which is also playing there. While Kron's work chronicles the life of New York lefties in the W. era, Nelson portrays a liberal family's dinner two years into the Obama era on election night 2010. The four grown Apple siblings gather at the Rhinebeck home of the unmarried sister who is caring for their uncle, an actor who is suffering from loss of memory after a heart attack. The divorced sister has brought along her current interest, who is also an actor, to meet the family. During the early scenes, we pick up on the complicated relationships that unite and divide the family. When the conversation turns to politics, everyone voices opinions that arise naturally from what we have learned about them. Noone's behavior escapes criticism. The best that can be said is that some politicians are less bad than others. Not much happens, nothing is resolved, yet the experience is mildly bracing, mainly because of the superb ensemble acting, The entire cast -- Jon Devries, Shuler Hensley, Maryann Plunkett, Laila Robbins, Jay O. Sanders and J. Smith-Cameron -- is topnotch.

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