Monday, January 27, 2020

Weekly Margin 2020, W4: Grand Horizons, Harry Townsend's Last Stand, Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation

1/22/20: Grand Horizons
What: Second Stage presents a new play by Bess Wohl about an elderly couple who casually decide to divorce, and their adult sons who refuse to accept this decision.
And? Yikes but I did not like this at all. I felt like I was watching a family of half-sketches making mean-spirited jabs at each other's expense, all played for laughs, like I was at a live taping of a CBS three-camera comedy, because also I laughed exactly once. Michael Urie and Ashley Park were both good (Ben McKenzie, for the record, was not), but I was so bored, annoyed, and disengaged that I instead started longing for the earlier, better plays I'd seen them both in. Why were we subjected to this? I saw playwright Bess Wohl's Small Mouth Sounds at Signature and it was engaging and unusual; how did she then turn out this predictable, conventional unfunny comedy?

Ashley Park, Michael Urie, Jane Alexander, and James Cromwell as Jess, Brian,
Nancy, and Bill. Photo by Joan Marcus.

1/23/20: Harry Townsend's Last Stand
What: MTC presents George Eastman's play: Harry Townsend values his independence but is in denial about his own inability to look after himself--a contradiction which comes to a head when his adult son Alan comes to visit and try to convince him to move to an assisted living facility.
And? Not as bad as Grand Horizons, but not especially great. The play sometimes felt as scattered as Harry's mind. Craig Bierko did great work.

Len Cariou and Craig Bierko as Harry Townsend and Alan Townsend.
Photo by Maria Baranova.

1/24/20: Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation
What: The latest from Gerard Alessandrini gets an encore run at the York, which means I didn't miss it after all! And for the first time, it's a cast of five instead of four, including a teen boy to help with Evan Hansen, Mary Poppins, and Cursed Child (and Tootsie, I guess?)
And? As has been the case of late with the last few iterations of Forbidden Broadway, a mixed bag of spot on parody and jokes that are showing their get-off-my-lawn mentality. Highlights include "Fosse/Verdon," "Jeremy Pope in Ain't Too Proud," and "Judy Garland/Renee Zellweger," and basically anything Jenny Lee Stern does.

Immanuel Houston, Aline Mayagoitia, Chris Collins-Pisano, Joshua Turchin,
and Jenny Lee Stern. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

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