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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
It takes place in a funeral home where Jo's casket and picture dominate the scene, just as Jo has always dominated her husband Edward Carr's life. He's slipped out for the first of many cigarettes, which will kill him eight months later. He talks to us in a conversational style, although it can also be confessional. He rambles. If Ed Harris weren't such a magnificent actor, the play would ramble too. As it is, Harris preaches a love story, a testimonial without regret.
We learn he was raised in an orphanage and never loved or even touched a woman until Jo. It was she who opened him up emotionally. She is 40, he is 25. Ed is determined to get what he wants and keep what he gets. He says he wouldn't have broken up her marriage if it hadn't been on the rocks already. She has two sons by her first husband and two daughters with Ed. They're not discussed, except for a faint hint of animosity on the boys' behalf, who are almost grown men when Ed comes along. The daughters are barely mentioned and there may be a reason or two for that, but neither he nor the playwright are sharing with us.
He mentions sleeping on the couch a couple of times but the sex is spectacular and the devotion unswerving. He has a rough veneer, a result of his orphanage youth, and that serves him in his decision.
I won't reveal the ending but the playwright has painted a portrait of a tough guy who sees the love he's longed for in the most complete way open to him and ruthlessly takes it. Harris is dynamic, vibrant and always holds the stage. He's likeable, the perfect person for this controversial role. As the play meanders along with no dynamic end in sight, he's the only thing that keeps us watching. Jo is a pillar of the community but we get no sense of her as a person, maybe because Ed has blinders on his eyes.
Playwright LaBute in his director's hat keeps the play moving and the actor in motion. After it's over and you see what the title really means and Harris gets his standing ovation, we say the same thing. He was wonderful but the play, that fragile piece, would it hold up without him? Delicate and tender, a sidestep for LaBute, it's controversial. At the end of the day, given the secrets Ed kept and the love they shared, it's worth it to him.
For Elyse Sommer's review when Harris first played this role in New York go here.