Saturday, April 16, 2011
Marie and Bruce *
Perhaps encouraged by their well-received revival of Wallace Shawn's play Aunt Dan and Lemon several years ago, The New Group has brought back this early black comedy by Shawn. Lightning did not strike twice. This absurdist look at a failed marriage was sheer agony to sit through. With no intermission, there was no chance to flee. Its 90 minutes seemed an eternity. Perhaps Shawn wanted to convey the banality of urban intellectuals and the difficulty of meaningful communication, but his fixation on bodily functions as a conversation topic was a turn-off. The central party scene exposed the foolishness of the guests and host, but seemed endless. Marisa Tomei and Frank Whaley made a brave effort to bring their characters to life, but they remained abstractions, not real people that I could care about. Scott Elliott directed. Many scholars regard Shawn as one of our most important playwrights. I don't understand why.