Sunday, April 10, 2011

Go Back to Where You Are **

Playwrights Horizons' press release describes David Greenspan's latest work as a "melancholy comic romance." To me, it was a playful sketch masquerading as a play. The plot brings Passalus, a former Athenian chorus boy who has been languishing in Purgatory for over two centuries (Greenspan) back to earth on a mission from God (Tim Hopper) which involves visiting a theatrical (in both senses) family who are vacationing in the Hamptons. Claire (the always enjoyable Lisa Banes) is a bitchy middle-aged actress who has invited Charlotte (the hilarious Mariann Mayberry), an actress who can't seem to find work in New York; fellow actor Tom who is a bit of a rake (the still handsome Stephen Bogardus); his long-suffering partner Malcolm (Hopper, again);  her gay brother Bernard (Brian Hutchinson), an unsuccessful playwright; and her gay son Wally (Michael Izquierdo) who has moved to L.A. to write for television, to a party to celebrate the birthday of her never-seen daughter Caroline. Passalus, who has the ability to shape-shift, is also a guest at the party, both in his own guise and as an English dowager. Passalus and Bernard are unsettled by their feelings for each other.Got all that? The dialogue includes theater jokes, asides, interior monologues, self-references, and chronological liberties, many of them quite amusing. On the downside, some of the characters and relationships are underwritten. At 70 minutes, it is long for a sketch and short for a play. I was entertained, but undernourished.

The set by Rachel Hauck is elegant in its simplicity and the lighting by Matt Frey is excellent. As for the direction, I wish that Leigh Silverman did not repeatedly leave actors sitting or standing around awkwardly when others held the spotlight.

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