Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Drinks & the City

"The Drunken City" at Playwrights Horizons, March 21, 2008

Adam Bock's new play at Playwrights Horizons is an 80 minute extension of what might have been a very effective episode of "Friends" or "Sex and the City." Marnie (Cassie Beck), Melanie (Maria Dizzia) and Linda (Sue Jean Kim) are engaged (shrieks!!) all within two weeks of each other (shrieks!!). As good Jersey girls, they go into the city to celebrate - with too many cocktails and not unexpected results. They meet Eddie (Barrett Foa), the gay, tap-dancing dentist and his friend Frank (Mike Colter), whose last girlfriend dumped him because he didn't listen to her (that's what she said when she dumped him) on the streets during their bar crawl. Frank and Marnie are immediately drawn to each other, to the great consternation of their friends.

As expected, Marnie doesn't really want to marry Gary (her fiance'). Melanie dumps her fiance' when she finds out he cheated on her and Linda can't handle the possibility that things won't turn out like she wants them too (her drinking doesn't help). Linda calls Bob (Alfredo Narciso) who owns the NJ bakery where Marnie and Melanie work, to come sort things out. While the drama whirls around them, Bob and Eddie lock eyes and face off in what Mr. Bock (in his program notes) compares to Beatrice and Benedict from "Much Ado About Nothing."

The revelations and resolutions are not really surprising, but are handled genuinely. Mr. Bock does have a knack for capturing the incomplete phrasing of people who can finish each others' sentences, as well as that uncomfortable stilted dialog that occurs when there's some heavy sexual attraction at play, but neither party wants to reveal his/her cards first.

As Marnie, Ms. Beck gives the strongest performance of the women. The first of the three to accept her ring, it turns out she said yes before she really realized what the question had been (BTW, her fiance' had dated Melissa before he and Marnie got together). She gives Marnie the right level of realism in the early drunk scenes, faring best when the three women are onstage together.

As Frank, the new object of Marnie's affection, Mr. Colter is handsome and appealing, but a bit wooden and self-conscious in his delivery.

Ms. Dizzia's Melanie is little more than a bitter harpie, harboring resentment for Marnie which results in a major meltdown between them. Ms. Kim's Linda gets stuck with lines that speak the obvious. She doesn't quite master the profile of a young woman with a drinking problem, despite the strange theatrical monologue and song that pop up so oddly to describe her fear and fascination of the city when she drinks.

Mr. Foa's Eddie comes off nicely. He manages to balance his concern over his friend with remaining something of a calm voice amid the hysteria that surrounds his and Frank's meeting with the women. I found his discomfort over his attraction to Bob appropriately bittersweet. As Bob, Mr. Narciso brings the same intensity last seen in his performance in "The Misanthrope" at New York Theatre Workshop (minus the food fight). He finds some touching layers in the defensive, yet vulnerable character.

Director Trip Cullman has assembled a pretty cast of six, and some of them can really act, too. He treats some segments like a farce, though that poses for some rough transitions from time to time. Still, he gives the audience an entertaining evening with some things that many of us may recognize in ourselves at the same time.

David Korins' spare set is a clean canvas for the proceedings, and coordinates well with Matthew Richards' lighting.

Here's a discount offer from Playwrights Horizons:



A new play by Adam Bock


Cassie Beck • Mike Colter • Maria Dizzia
Barrett Foa • Sue Jean Kim • Alfredo Narciso

Directed by Trip Cullman

March 13 – April 20

Playwrights Horizons Peter Jay Sharp

416 West 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues

“Hey, why not write a play where everyone is drunk – that way truth’ll be flying every which everywhere.” - Adam Bock

Off on the bar crawl to end all crawls, three twenty-something brides-to-be find their lives going topsy-turvy when one of them begins to question her future after a chance encounter with a recently jilted handsome stranger. The Drunken City is a wildly theatrical take on the mystique of marriage and the ever-shifting nature of love and identity in a city that never sleeps.

Special Discount offer for Bloggers Posts: $35 tickets (REG. $45) for all performances

How to order (purchase by March 26 and mention code ‘DCBL’ to receive discount):

  • Online: www.ticketcentral.com and use code DCBL
  • Phone: Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 (Noon-8pm daily) and mention code DCBL.
  • In person: Ticket Central, 416 West 42nd Street between 9th & 10th Avenues

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