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LETTERS TO EDITOR
by Les Gutman
The shortcomings are both structural amd substantive. Sherman overloads the play with admittedly funny but unnecessary material about Darwin and the effort of the main character, Henry (Josh Hamilton), to cobble together a thesis that doesn't use the letter "e". He also makes more than the required effort to assure that we don't miss Henry's own evolutionary arc, in which he morphs from culturally insulated academic to purveyor of pop pablum. Much of the story is moved forward by means of an unwarranted narrator (Larry Bloch, who is nonetheless quite effective as well as comical), and is peppered with "interludes" performed by Ione Skye in which she alternately reads "Femme Fatale Flashcards" and engages in phone sex for pay. What these add to the play I can't begin to say.
In between the extrania can be found some genuinely wonderful scenes, the best of which is called the "Speed Scene" and features Henry's introduction to the world of amphetamines at the hand's of Ernie (Armando Riesco), the brother of his girlfriend Hope (Keira Naughton). Almost on the same level is a scene in which Henry and Ernie pitch the idea of an Evolution television show to two network execs, portrayed by Mr. Block (who plays a variety of roles as well as narrator in the show) and the superb Peter Dinklage. Both scenes are pivotal, and it's a shame they don't have much to pivot around. To quote Elyse Sommer's conclusion in the earlier review, "Where's the emotional payoff in all this?"
Josh Hamilton's Henry is right on target -- this is a role in which he covers much the same terrain as in his best known performances: in The Waverly Gallery, As Bees in Honey Drown, Proof and, in slightly different form, This Is Our Youth. Ione Skye does nicely with the role of Gina, the young actress who attracts Henry's attention in Hollywood, when she's not doing those flashcards and phone sex routines. Keira Naughton is merely adequate as Hope.
The production includes a heavy dose of multimedia,some useful and some not, much of which consists of slides projected on the walls of Andromache Chalfant's set, which seems needlessly chopped up.
LINKS TO EARLIER REVIEW
Evolution at Williamstown
6,500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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