Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Good Television ***

(Please click on the title to see the entire review.)
A TV reality show called "Rehabilitation" might seem too easy a target, but Rod McLachlan's off-Broadway debut play in previews at Atlantic Stage 2 generally avoids easy satire. Bernice (Talia Balsam) is the cynical show runner. Connie (Kelly McAndrew) is the senior producer responsible for selecting which addicts will be cast for the show and, thereby, get a family intervention and a chance for free rehab. Tara (Jessica Cummings) is the idealistic new hire fresh out of film school (and the boss's cousin). Ethan (Andrew Stewart-Jones) is brought in to run the show when Bernice bails for an infotainment show on Fox. The production team must decide whether to cast Clemson MacAddy (John Magaro) of Aiken, SC, a teen-aged meth addict, for the show. His sister Brittany (Zoe Perry) is a single mom struggling to care for her kids, her dying mother and her addict younger brother. Their older brother Mackson (Luke Robertson) is rarely around to help, but shows up as soon as he sniffs opportunity. Their long-absent abusive father (Ned Van Zandt) puts in an appearance too. When film crew and MacAddy family meet in Act Two, things do not go smoothly -- to put it mildly. All the actors are good, but McAndrew and Perry are superb. The bond that grows between their characters is the play's backbone. Eric Southern's set, Theresa Squire's costumes and Bob Krakower's direction are all fine. The play raises interesting ethical questions: who is deserving vs. who is likely to yield "good television?" What, if any, are the differences between documentary and reality show? Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes including intermission. Note: Avoid Row A at Atlantic Stage 2. It is actually the second row and not raised above the front row.

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