Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Poor Behavior *

Primary Stages' first play of the season is now in previews at its new home at The Duke on 42nd Street. If you crave 2+ hours of arguing, bickering, shouting and throwing tantrums, punctuated only by chunks of pseudophilosophical blather and a few feeble attempts at humor, this is the play for you. Two childless married couples, probably in their late thirties and wed for about a decade, are gathered at the vacation home of one of the couples for a weekend in the country. The hosts, Peter (Jeff Biehl) and Ella (Katie Kreisler), seem relatively sane and happy, at least compared to the other couple. Ian (Brian Avers) is an abrasive Irishman who may have married the hysterical Maureen (Heidi Armbruster) either for her money or a green card. After a long night of drinking, Maureen makes an accusation of infidelity which leads to serious consequences. There is much talk about the nature of "good." The actors did not dishonor themselves coping with this less than stellar material, although Avers shouted louder than necessary much of the time. Lauren Helpern's set of the kitchen, dining nook and entryway of the house was quite attractive and looked lived in. Jessica Pabst's costumes were apt. I find it hard to judge Evan Cabnet's direction, because Theresa Rebeck's script presents so many problems. Rebeck, whose work includes Mauritius, Seminar, and Our House, has the rare distinction of being the playwright whose latest play I always like less than the previous one. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes including intermission.

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