Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lost Lake ***

In the 13 years since winning the Pulitzer and a Tony for Proof, playwright David Auburn’s work has rarely been seen in New York. His 2011 adaptation of The New York Idea was rather flat and his 2012 bipolay about Joseph Alsop, The Columnist, did not have much to offer beyond a juicy role for John Lithgow. Now he is back at Manhattan Theatre Club with this two-character play about Veronica (Tracie Thoms), an African-American nurse from New York City who rents a summer home in Putnam County for a week and Hogan (John Hawkes), the man she rents it from. The widowed Veronica is a hard-working nurse who just wants to offer her two children a week in the country. Hogan, a free spirit who could all too easily be dismissed as one of life’s losers, is a man unable to deliver on his good intentions. The landlord-tenant relationship that throws them together develops into something different as they confide in each other and eventually reach out to help each other. It is a pleasure to see award-winning indie film actor Hawkes on stage. Thoms, whose previous work I was not familiar with, holds her own performing with him. Auburn has written two characters that are both vivid and compassionate. The ending may not bring us to a happy place, but the journey is worthwhile. Daniel Sullivan’s direction is skillful. J. Michael Griggs’s set is appropriately both rustic and a bit seedy. Jess Goldstein’s costumes are apt. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes; no intermission.

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