Friday, March 9, 2012

The Big Meal *

Do you like watching people eat? Do you enjoy listening to family squabbles in restaurants? If so, Playwrights Horizons has the play for you. It is playwright Dan LeFranc's conceit to present the story of five generations of a family through a series of short restaurant scenes. As the characters age, the actors keep changing the roles they play. Since the story is told sequentially, it's relatively easy to keep track of who's playing whom. The constant bickering quickly becomes tiresome. The periodic arrival of the server with a plate of food becomes a cause for dread. Tom Bloom and Anita Gillette stand out in a fine cast that includes Jennifer Mudge, David Wilson Barnes, Phoebe Strole, Cameron Scoggins, Rachel Resheff, Griffin Birney and Mollly Ward. With too few stirring scenes, the play becomes repetitive and tedious. The decision by this season's hot director Sam Gold (Seminar, Look Back in Anger, We Live Here) to freeze the action whenever someone starts to eat loses its effectiveness rapidly. The set and costumes are by David Zinn (Seminar, Completeness).The play seemed longer than its 90 minutes. 

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