"Relatively Speaking" at Brooks Atkinson Theatre, December 20, 2011
Posted by Mondschein
As the graphic indicates, this is an evening of 3 unrelated one-act plays.
First up, Talking Cure by Ethan Coen. Mr. Coen, you make very interesting movies. Please return when you have an interesting play to show us. Of all the work I have seen you produce for the stage (Offices, Almost an Evening), none have met that category yet.
Second, George is Dead by Elaine May. Coming across as Ms. May's version of Neil Simon, this is the better constructed piece. Doreen (Marlo Thomas) turns up on Carla's (Lisa Emery) doorstep late one night announcing the news that George (Doreen's husband) is dead. We soon learn that Carla is the daughter of Doreen's childhood nanny, and that Doreen remains a child in more ways than one ought at her age. Carla, shoved into the role of nanny, succumbs and takes charge making arrangements.
Ms. Emery makes a valiant effort as Doreen's foil. Ms. Thomas' Doreen seems to have been written (certainly costumed and styled) for Kathie Lee Gifford. She wheedles and whines, sharing an analogy of conversations as "underwear stories" where she gets bored halfway through and stops paying attention. It feels as though Ms. May did the same.
Third, Honeymoon Motel by Woody Allen. Mr. Allen starts with an interesting premise, then gives up and resorts to Catskill-comedy style one-liners for each character to mug.
Santo Loquasto crams a lot of scenery onstage for these three unrelated productions, each exceeding their source material.
It's hardly an auspicious directorial debut for John Turturro. Perhaps he was distracted by his own preparation for his appearance in CSC's Cherry Orchard. Perhaps he was merely underwhelmed by the poor material he'd been enlisted to stage.
Relatively Speaking is on an open-ended run.