I’m Right Here

Here’s an endorsement that might not sound like one: for a play about three upper-class, narcissistic WASPs alternately moaning about their medical, financial, and relationship problems, Melissa Ross’ Of Good Stock isn’t all that bad. Continue reading “I’m Right Here”

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Another Heavenly Day

In a 1960 letter to a friend, Harold Pinter wrote of Samuel Beckett, “I’ll buy his goods hook, line, and sinker, because he leaves no stone unturned and no maggot lonely.”  This is perhaps never more true than in Happy Days.  Winnie (Brooke Adams), buried up to her waist in earth, regularly wakes up at the sound of an alarm bell and spends her days pleasantly chatting to her crippled husband, Willie (Tony Shalhoub), who is unable to work up the strength to do much more than squirm out of his hole, read the newspaper, and masturbate.  This doesn’t seem to disturb Winnie, whose indefatigable cheer rarely darkens.  “Just to know that in theory you can hear me even though in fact you don’t is all I need,” she says early on.  Both in their physicality and their circumstances, Winnie and Willie come quite close to resembling maggots—but they aren’t lonely. Continue reading “Another Heavenly Day”

Voicing Ghosts

Ghosts hover in the wings of two short plays by David Mamet, “Prairie du Chien” and “The Shawl,” currently paired on Atlantic Stage 2.  In “Prairie du Chien,” a raconteur (Jordan Lage) passes the time on a train by telling the story of a man who murdered his wife and hanged himself after discovering her affair with a Black farmhand; while searching his burning house for survivors, the raconteur and the local sheriff see a figure moving at the top of the stairs, only discerning a red dress.  In “The Shawl,” the psychic John (Arliss Howard), who may or may not be a fake, is goaded by his boyfriend Charles (Jason Ritter) into steering the wealthy Miss A (Mary McCann) to contest her mother’s will and place the management of the retrieved money into their hands. Continue reading “Voicing Ghosts”

How Do You Not Like Me?

Jesse Eisenberg has gotten angrier.  His first play, Asuncion, was a merciless takedown of white, liberal politics, but at its center was a genuinely warm if dysfunctional love story.  His follow-up, The Revisionist, was admittedly colder, pitting a self-absorbed, pretentious writer against a savvy, Polish Holocaust survivor.  But The Spoils, now being produced by The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, makes John Osborne look positively placid.  Ben (Mr. Eisenberg) is a film school dropout who lives in an expensive apartment funded by his parents.  He allows his only friend, Kaylan (Kunal Nayyar), to crash for free, though it could be argued that Kaylan pays in emotional turmoil: Ben is hot-and-cold, sometimes full of praise, more often an indefatigable bully who refuses to conform to any social niceties: “You’re looking very Indian tonight,” tells Kaylan’s girlfriend, Reshma (Annapurna Sriram), after interrupting their weekly date.  But things get worse—and much more awkward—when Ben finds out that an old childhood companion, Teddy (Michael Zegen), is marrying his first crush, Sarah (Erin Darke).  Typically histrionic, he tells Kaylan, “I think that was the last time I was really in love.” Continue reading “How Do You Not Like Me?”