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A CurtainUp Review

How to Build a Better Tulip
By Brad Bradley


Lois Nettleton
Lois Nettleton (Photo: Carol Rosegg )
Yikes! If ever a play needed to be buried fast, this is it. "Not since Moose Murders" [or fill in your own favorite all-time flop] is the phrase that inevitably comes to mind.

One could have hopedů with a source like a classic novel by Alexandre Dumas (The Black Tulip). And one again could have hopedů with the remarkably talented (and still comely) Lois Nettleton as the lead player. In fact, the entire cast appears to have talent, but their possibilities are not in the least well used. Line after line of intended comedy fell dead on an attentive but stony silent audience, who, as it turned out, were more polite than the material deserved. To give full disclosure, a significant number had the wisdom to leave at intermission.

If you want to know what this mess is about, I think it concerns rival horticulturists who must deal with annoying spirits from centuries ago as well as contemporary hysteria about weapons of mass destruction. Considering the $55 price, your entertainment bucks can't help finding better places to go.

Mr. Scheffler's several sets centering on a greenhouse certainly are attractive. Ms. Schmidt and Mr. Meadow do fine work on their respective costume and lighting designs. The playwright thinks he has written a comedy, and while he has written some pretty lame material that ludicrously departs from the Dumas novel, he at least could have insisted that his producer hire a director to give the play some comic flavor. Instead he chose to take on the task himself, and thereby compound the dramatic fracture.

How to Build a Better Tulip
Written and directed by Mark R. Giesser
Cast: Lois Nettleton, Paul Amodeo, Tessa Auberjonois, Prentiss Benjamin, and Mitchell Greenberg.
Set Design: John C. Scheffler
Costume Design: Melanie A. Schmidt
Lighting Design: Aaron Meadow Running time: 2 hours including one intermission.
Alces Productions LLC at Acorn Theater4, 10 West 42nd Street (Theatre Row complex).
6/21/04 to 7/17/04; opening 6/30/04
Tuesday-Friday at 8; Saturday at 2 and 8; Sunday at 3 and 7.
Viewed by Brad Bradley at the Tuesday, June 29 preview.
Tickets, $55
Tales From Shakespeare
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
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Leonard Maltin's 2003 Movie and Video Guide
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Ridiculous! The Theatrical Life and Times of Charles Ludlam
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metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.



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©Copyright 2004, Elyse Sommer, CurtainUp.
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