Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Life *** B+

Adam Bock’s bold new play at Playwrights Horizons defied my expectations. Even the scenic design turned out to be surprising. The problem for a reviewer is that it is difficult to say much about the production without spoiling the experience. David Hyde Pierce plays Nate Martin, a middle-aged gay man living in Manhattan. The latest in a long series of lovers has left him a month before the play begins. In the past, Nate has turned to astrology for guidance. His supportive best friend Curtis (Brad Heberlee) and he enjoy ogling hot men in Central Park. We also meet Nate’s sister Lori (Lynne McCollough) and two other women, Jocelyn (Marinda Anderson) and Allison (Nedra McClyde). About halfway through the play, events take a most unexpected turn. There is a long scene virtually without dialogue that tests the audience’s mettle. The remainder of the play follows the likely consequences of that scene. It is bracing in its conception, but likely to be disturbing for single people living alone in New York. Pierce does well in a challenging role (even though he seemed a bit old for the part). Heberlee is quite strong and the three women are all fine. Laura Jellinek finds an ingenious solution to presenting three different locations. Jessica Pabst costumed each character suitably. Director Anne Kauffman has wisely chosen to let the play breathe without rushing through difficult moments. Even though I found it unnerving, I was glad to experience it. Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission.

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