Friday, September 30, 2011

We Live Here *

Earlier this month I saw a play (The Submission) that revolved around whether a budding playwright could get his play produced under his own name. Call me a cynic, but after seeing Zoe Kazan's new play now in previews at Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage I, I had to wonder whether this playwright could have gotten this play produced if she had any other name. The attention MTC lavished on it -- a great set by John Lee Beatty, a good cast (Amy Irving, Mark Blum, Betty Gilpin, Jessica Collins, Jeremy Shamos and Oscar Isaac), who do their best, and one of today's hottest directors, Sam Gold -- all suggest that they found the material worthy. I wish I could agree. The plot evolves from the enforced family togetherness occasioned by the wedding of one of the daughters, whose twin sister died several years prior. The younger daughter brings home a wedding date who she knows will upset her family. Tensions boil over, secrets are revealed. I suspect you will guess each plot development well before it happens. (What Chekhov said about shotguns could equally well apply to motorcycles.) A pivotal character displays personality traits in the second act that are at odds with her behavior in the first act. The dialogue ranges from trendily clever to flat-footed. Even the title is lackluster. There must be many talented young playwrights out there wishing they had greater name recognition. The audience response was tepid.

Running time: just under two hours including intermission

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