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The Awful Truth
Lucy has the curse of the snappy retort,— Eustace
Lovers of the frenetically-paced madcap comedy films of the 1930s will undoubtedly be curious about the source of one of the most treasured among them the 1937 The Awful Truth starring Irene Dunn and Cary Grant. At the top of their form under the masterful direction of Leo McCarey, they cavorted through the inanities with such abandon that we paid almost no attention to the motivations of their illogically conscripted characters. The source is the 1922 play by Arthur Richman which the adventurous Metropolitan Playhouse has found and unfortunately fumbled with this otherwise well-intentioned revival, presumably the only one since it first appeared on Broadway.
Alexandra O'Daly and Nate Washburn (Photo: Jacob J. Goldberg)
It would be nice to say that their efforts to reunite theater-goers with a gem from the past are rewarding, but it simply isn't the case. And the problem exists as much with this talky, virtually hapless play as it is with the stilted, mostly overly mannered performances and the clumsy direction that have brought it back to life. About the only thing that is truly worth commending is the clever way in which the set (bravo to Alex Roe) is changed between the three acts of this less than two-hour play.
The action, or rather the mostly inane chatter, takes place in a study and in the two living rooms of its upper-crusty inhabitants.
All spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out the reasons why one couple's four-year marriage disintegrated and why the presumably cheating wife of that former union should now be worthy of the extremely wealthy oil tycoon to whom she is now engaged...to the chagrin of his mother.
Considering that the play is set in the 1920s, and the period-correct costumes provide what style there is to the proceedings, I was a bit dismayed by the unmistakable and distracting presence of contemporary bras beneath the ladies dresses. These destroyed the illusion of the flapper era's flattened haute couture, as much as the pretentious posturing destroyed any illusion of real behavior.
If there are two performers who show indications that, under firmer direction, might have delivered some of the desperately needed panache and brio to bring the stultifying doings to life they are Nate Washburn and Alexandra O'Daly as the divorced couple.
A few vintage plays such as last season's Icebound have been admirably produced by this company so one has to applaud the Metropolitan Playhouse for its mission to find and produce lost plays even if some of them show proof of why they have remained so.
The Awful Truth by Arthur Richman|
Directed by Michael Hardart
Cast: J. Stephen Brantley (Deniel Leeson), Benjamin Russell (Eustace Trent), Mark August (Jayson), Alexandra O'Daly (Lucy Warriner), Emily Jon Mitchell (Mrs. Leeson), Erin Leigh Schmoyer (Josephine Trent), Nate Washburn (Norman Satterly), Eden Epstein (Celeste), Mark August (Rufus Kempster)
Stage Manager: Heather Olmstead
Set Design: Alex Roe
Lighting Design: Christopher Weston
Costume Design: Sidney Fortner
Running Time: 1 hour 50 minutes including one intermission
Metropolitan Playhouse 220A East Fourth Street
(212) 995 - 8410 or (800) 838 - 3006
Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 students/seniors, and $10 children under 18.
Performances: Thursday Saturday evenings at 7:30 pm; Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm. Additional Performances Wednesdays 10/7 and 10/14 at 3:00 pm; and
Saturdays 10/10, and 10/17 at 3:00 pm.
From : 09/18/15 Opened 09/25/15 Ends 10/18/15
Review by Simon Saltzman based on performance 09/25/15
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