Friday, October 7, 2011
Man and Boy *
A play about an unscrupulous financier during a time of economic distress -- what could be more timely? And by that crafter of well-made plays, Terence Rattigan, no less, starring multiple-award winner Frank Langella -- surely a recipe for success? Guess again. Instead, this Roundabout production was 2 1/2 dreary hours of creaky contrivances that went far beyond implausible. Although the play flopped in London when it was first presented, it had a successful revival with David Suchet in 2005 directed by Maria Aitken, the same director as this production. It's a mystery to me how that version succeeded when this one falls so flat. The plot revolves around a shady 1930's wheeler and dealer, Gregor Antonescu (Langella), whose international business empire is on the verge of collapse. He chooses to hide out, first from the press, then from the law, in the apartment of his estranged son (Adam Driver), a piano player in a Village bar who goes by the name Basil Anthony. Other characters include Basil's girlfriend Carol (Virginia Kull), Gregor's longtime lieutenant Sven (Michael Siberry), Gregor's current wife (Francesca Faridany) for whom he has bought the title of countess; Mark Herries (Zach Grenier), head of a company Gregor wants to merge with, and Herries' high-strung accountant David Beeston (Brian Hutchison). The main question of the evening is how low Gregor will stoop to save his skin. Surprisingly, Langella's performance lacked nuance and fire and was (dare I say it?) boring. Siberry and Grenier fared better. Driver was good at playing whiny and weak. Kull and Faridany had little chance to shine. The staging was awkward, with various characters forced to sit silently in Basil's bedroom for long periods. Derek McLane's set made a basement apartment in Greenwich Village look very gloomy, an appropriate setting for a dispiriting evening.