Sunday, April 29, 2012

Regrets **

(Please click on the title to see the full review.)
I was surprised to learn that Matt Charman, the author of this period drama about the inhabitants of a divorce ranch for men in Nevada in 1954, is British. It's hardly an obvious topic for a contemporary playwright, especially one from across the pond. Charman succeeds in setting up an interesting situation, when a mysterious young arrival, Caleb Farley (Ansel Elgort),  disturbs the equilibrium of the three current residents -- Alvin Novotny (Richard Topol), Gerald Driscoll (Lucas Caleb Rooney) and Ben Clancy (Brian Hutchinson). Adriane Lenox is fine as Mrs. Duke, the scrappy black owner of the ranch. Alexis Bledel is less convinicing as a kind-hearted young prostitute who visits the ranch, but the role is poorly written. The arrival of Robert Hanraty (Curt Bouril), an investigator from the House Unamerican Activities Committee sets the plot in motion. Unfortunately, the second act runs downhill and fails to fulfill the play's early promise. The set by Rachel Hauck, the costumes by Ilona Somogyi and the direction by Carolyn Cantor are all effective. The results are sufficiently interesting that I had no regrets about seeing it. It was certainly the best of the three new plays that Manhattan Theatre Club has offered at City Center this season. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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