Saturday, June 4, 2016

Indian Summer **

Gregory S. Moss’s new play at Playwrights Horizons has a lot going for it -- three appealing young actors — Owen Campbell, Elise Kibler and Joe Tippett — and a first-rate production with an attractive set design by Dane Laffrey featuring an inviting beach, apt costumes by Kaye Voyce, great lighting by Eric Southern and smooth direction by Carolyn Cantor. There’s a fourth actor, Jonathan Hadary, whom I usually find annoying, but in this case appropriately so, because his character is also annoying. Daniel (Campbell) is an awkward scrawny 16-year-old whose mother has dumped him for an indefinite period on his step-grandfather George (Hadary) a recently widowed eccentric, who lives in a shack in a small Rhode Island beach town. On the beach, Daniel meets Izzy, a scrappy, sexy townie. It is obvious that their initial hostility will soon change. Izzy’s boyfriend Jeremy, 10 years her senior, is a martial arts master who has developed his own private philosophy. Fortunately, Jeremy is played by Tippett (Familiar), who brings humanity to a cartoonish role. As Izzy, the stunningly gorgeous Kibler knows how to hold our attention even as the lines she must spout become increasingly implausible. I wish that the actors had not been forced to struggle with a Rhode Island accent. What starts as a simple summer idyll goes seriously off course in the second act with a bizarre scene between George and Izzy. George’s hijacking of the play’s ending is the final misstep that wiped out my early good feelings. The mostly-subscriber audience, probably relieved at not having to confront anything too edgy, loved it. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

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