Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Great God Pan ***

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Amy Herzog's new play now in previews at Playwrights Horizons is never less than interesting, but does not provide the same level of satisfaction her previous play, 4000 Miles, did, at least not for me. If I had to state the theme, I would say it is the vicissitude of childhood memories, e.g. what is remembered, what is buried, what is simply forgotten, what is perceived as memory but was acquired from others, how memories of the same event differ. The high cost of being emotionally withholding is another issue. The seven vivid characters Herzog has created are superbly portrayed by a uniformly strong cast. Jamie (Jeremy Strong) is a 32-year-old freelance writer who struggles to piece together a living. Paige (Sarah Goldberg), his girlfriend of 6 years, is a former dancer whose career was ended abruptly by an injury, and is now studying to be a nutritional counselor. At the very moment when their relationship is in a severe crisis, Jamie is upset by a visit from Frank (Keith Nobbs), a former playmate whom he hasn't seen in 25 years, who has filed charges against his father for abusing him as a child. Frank's suggestion that Jamie might also have been a victim upsets Jamie's equilibrium. His conversations with his parents Cathy (Becky Ann Baker) and Doug (Peter Friedman) are far from comforting. His visit to his now senile former babysitter Polly (Joyce van Patten) does not provide answers. The remaining character, Joelle (Erin Wilhelmi), is a bulimic patient of Paige's. I suppose Paige's relationship with Joelle is intended to mirror her relationship with Jamie, but I did not feel their two scenes together were an integral part of the play. A final scene between Frank and Jamie ends the play on an ambiguous note. Carolyn Cantor's direction is assured. Mark Wendland's set of a forest glade with panels that pop out to form benches and tables is lovely, but distracting. Kaye Voyce's costumes serve the characters well. Running time: 90 minutes without intermission.

Question: Are there any American playwrights left out there who can write a two-act play?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Bob - I was happy to have seen this play because the actors were all so wonderful to see and hear. Your review is right on.