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A CurtainUp Review
All That I Will Ever B
By Elyse Sommer
As Ball has demonstrated with his hit TV series and the film American Beauty, he has a way with dialogue. He's also a sharp marksman when it comes to slinging arrows at America's uninspiring cultural landscape. The trouble here is that, sharp and stinging as Ball's dialogue is, there's too much of it. What's more, his arrows aimed at our intimacy-challenged, vacuous culture lands on a dartboard already covered with holes left by other playwrights (most recently by Douglas Carter Beane in the soon-to-close The Little Dog Laughed, which also involved a yearnful hustler and one of his internet customers).
Jo Bonney, a director known for her savvy handling of trendy modern plays, sees to it that Omar and Dwight's Internet spawned relationship heads towards its inevitable crash with enough snap and crackle to feel edgy with meaningful insights into sexual, cultural and ractial attitudes even though it fails to deliver on all three counts. Neil Patel's sleek sliding panel set design handily accommodate the numerous scenes between Omar and Dwight and various similarly emotionally guarded characters: The opening scene where Omar in his day job setting delivers a motor-mouthed sales pitch for the latest in electronic gimmickry to a stone-faced customer (Patch Darragh in the first of four expertly differentiated roles). . .a bar where Omar gets acquainted with a woman picked up during another sales pitch (Kandiss Edmundson, way too shrill as a wannabe movie mogul, and not noticeably better in another swing role). . . Dwight's apartment where the sexual favors negotiated over the internet are being delivered. . .a father (Victor Slezak in an aptly understated performance) and son lunch scene in an expensive restaurant making it clear that there's no way these knotty family ties can ever be unknotted.
The scene switching also includes a Hollywood party in which Victor Slezak as a movie mogul initially so much like Dwight's father that the role switch is a bit confusing. Then there are the play's most genuine and disappointing hustler-client encounters. The first, and the play's most memorable, takes us to a post-coital conversation between Omar and Raymond, an older man who finally guesses Omar's real identity. David Margulies handily walks away with the play's acting honors and exits with its best line when he , responds to Omar's offer to stay the night without further payment with "Sweetheart, people don't pay your kind for sex. They pay you to leave." Unfortunately, another scene with a younger and very vulnerable client (the chameleon Patch Darragh again) makes Omar seem less like a needy seeker of human connection than a guy whose erratic behavior undercuts our sympathy for him.
Here's hoping that Alan Ball will continue to find time to write for the stage — but when he does so to go beyond quick bursts of wit to develop characters and conversations that really stick to the mind and heart.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Leonard Maltin's 2007 Movie Guide
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide