Saturday, May 26, 2012

Medieval Play (Act One) [zero stars]

(Please click on the title to read the full review.)
It had to happen sooner or later -- encountering a play so bad that returning after intermission was unthinkable. Alas, today was the day and this was the play. It is hard to imagine that Kenneth Lonergan, author of "This Is Our Youth," "Lobby Hero" and the screenplay for "You Can Count on Me," is responsible for this pointless mess, now in previews at Signature Theatre.  His play "The Starry Messenger" last year was no great shakes, but it was a masterpiece by comparison. This one is allegedly a comedy about the misadventures of two 14th-century Breton knights, one idealistic (Josh Hamilton), the other cynical and not too bright (Tate Donovan). The melange of anachronisms, bodily function jokes, four-letter words and comic book violence might make a mildly amusing five-minute sketch on Saturday Night Live, but sitting through an hour and twenty minutes of it was painful. Staying for the remaining hour and twenty minutes would qualify as cruel and unusual punishment. Most depressing of all, judging from the laughter, there was a substantial minority of the audience who loved every minute of it. Also in the cast are Anthony Arkin, Heather Burns, Halley Feiffer, Kevin Geer, John Pankow and C.J. Wilson.The storybook sets by Walt Spangler and costumes by Michael Krass were far more amusing that any lines in the play. The swordfights were well-staged by J. David Brimmer. Lonergan directed his own play, so he has no one else to blame. Running time: 2 hours, 45 minutes including intermission.

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