Thursday, January 17, 2013

Picnic **

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
60 years ago, William Inge's drama of sexual repression in a small Kansas town won the Pulitzer. Alas, time has not been kind. What must have seemed daring and edgy then has lost most of its force. It may be churlish to find fault with a production that brings us such fine actors as Mare Winningham, Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Marvel and Reed Birney, but the focus of the play is on Maggie Grace and Sebastian Stan, who, although they each look terrific, do not generate much heat. The supporting cast, which includes Madeleine Martin, Ben Rappaport, Maddie Corman, Cassie Beck, Chris Perfetti and Lizbeth Mackay, are all fine, but that only underlines the relative weakness of the central couple. Marvel and Birney virtually steal the play. After the horrible set he created for "Look Back in Anger," I was surprised to see Roundabout turn again to Andrew Lieberman. He apparently likes shallow, cramped sets. The rusty corrugated panels that fill the stage behind the two houses are most unattractive. Perhaps his intent was to illustrate the confines of small-town life, but his set is ungainly. David Zinn's costumes recreate the period well. Sam Gold's direction works most of the time, but the lack of a charismatic lead couple undercuts the play's impact. Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes including intermission.

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