Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fish in the Dark ***

Larry David’s comedy, his Broadway debut both as playwright and actor, has a lot in common with “It Shoulda Been You.” Both plays demonstrate that if you have a marvelous cast, good direction (by Steppenwolf’s Anna D. Shapiro) and a stylish production (sets by Todd Rosenthal, costumes by Ann Roth), you can go a long way toward making mediocre material seem better than it is. The fractious Drexel family is further fractured by an argument over the deathbed wish of family patriarch Sidney (Jerry Adler) that one of the sons welcome their mother Gloria (Jayne Houdyshell) into his home. Neither Norman (David) nor his younger brother Arthur (Ben Shenkman) wants the job. This basic situation is embellished by the machinations of other family members and retainers to gain an advantage. Glenn Headly (replacing Rita Wilson, who had to drop out to have surgery) is delightful as Norman’s wife Brenda. Rosie Perez is fine as the family maid Fabiana and Jake Cannavale is a hoot as her son Diego. Fine actors such as Richard Topol, Lewis J. Stadlen, Marylouise Burke and Jonny Orsini are underutilized in small parts, but it is still good to see them. Horny senior citizens play an important role in the story. This is one of the rare plays where things improve after intermission. David’s role is largely a copy of his TV persona. If you like ”Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you will very likely enjoy this too. Running time: 2 hours including intermission.

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