(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Somewhere inside the shapeless drama now in previews at MTC's Friedman Theatre, there's a play struggling to get out. There are plenty of plot points that could be interesting -- a family's suddenly diminished fortunes, the effects of parental favoritism on character, sibling rivalry in two generations, the treatment of German-Americans in 1917, the horrors of war, the plight of a war refugee, the difficulty of overcoming grief and a few nods to Chekhov. Why then don't they come together to form a rewarding, involving whole? It's not the acting -- the cast (Mary-Louise Parker, Danny Burstein, Victoria Clark, Evan Jonigkeit, Brian Cross, Christopher Innvar and Jessica Love) is mostly strong. It's certainly not the set -- once again Jon Lee Beatty has outdone himself with an attractive, flexible design. I think those most blame-worthy are playwright Sharr White ("The Other Place") for not locating and emphasizing the play's emotional center, the director (Daniel Sullivan) for overlooking serious problems (including a second act scene and character that should be excised), and Manhattan Theatre Club, for presenting a play before it was ready. Let's hope for a miracle -- maybe they'll whip it into shape before opening night. Running time: 2 hours, 5 minutes including intermission.