Sunday, October 9, 2011

Man and Boy

"Man and Boy" presented by Roundabout Theatre Company at the American Airlines Theatre, September 10,  2011

Back to reviving classic American theatre, the Roundabout has scored Frank Langella to lead Terrence Rattigan's 1963 story of a corrupt, big-money, business mogul.  Set in 1934 New York, Gregor Antonescu (Mr. Langella), who single-handedly saved the the Franc in 1926, is viewed as the Warren Buffett of his day.  The parallels to today continue with the Great Depression era during which dissatisfaction with Roosevelt sound a lot like the criticisms of President Obama. The truth turns out to reveal Antonescu as a Madoff-like cretin, who created an elaborate Ponzi scheme which is about to collapse.

Antonescu is laying low in NY, and turns to his estranged, illegitimate son Basil (Adam Driver), for help to complete a last ditch deal to re-supply his organization with cash.  Basil has cut ties and abandoned the lifestyle that might have been his after a failed attempt to shoot his father on his 21st birthday.

Mr. Langella is masterful in this creakily written role, finding depth and nuance that likely aren't on the page.  Mr. Driver is miscast as Basil.  His physical presence is anachronistically buff for the sensitive musician that is this bastard son.  Francesca Faridany turns up for another shallow socialite, similar to her role of Vida Philmore from the Atlantic Theatre Company's The New York Idea from earlier this year.

Director Maria Aitken keeps things moving, but the play might have benefited from a bit of adaptation 50 years later.  Derek McLane's Greenwich Village basement apartment works nicely, but is more serviceable than remarkable, as do Martin Pakledinaz' costumes.

Man and Boy is scheduled to run through November 27.

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