Tag Archives: Laura Pels

Talley’s Folly – Review

talley's folly

The curtain-less stage, set for Talley’s Folly (by Jeff Cowie) is impossible to ignore. The southern weathered boathouse littered with rusted and discarded objects begs for the arrival of Miss Havisham. The small apron of the Laura Pel’s stage is festooned in large cartoon-like flowers, setting the stage if you will for this realistic play that knows it’s a play.

Lanford Wilson’s 1979 Pulitzer Prize play begins with eliminating the fourth wall. Matt Friedman (Danny Burstein) walks through the house and onto the stage and announces how long the play will be and why he’s there. He repeats his opening speech (at a higher speed) for latecomers. For audience members who cling affectionately to the fourth wall, this is somewhat terrifying. But before we have time to rethink our choices, a halting and delicate story unfolds and we are immersed, enthralled and utterly smitten. We meet Sally Talley (Sarah Paulson) whom Matt has traveled to woo. Theirs is not an easy courtship. In fact at times it would seem that whatever courtship there is only exists in Matt’s mind. Sally is a lovely blonde woman from a wealthy family that is less than thrilled with the existence of the obviously Jewish and vaguely European Matt. That the play takes place during World War II is interesting but not all that relevant. The family’s attitude is timeless as is the story of Matt and Sally. To outline what occurs between them in the course of 90 minutes would deny potential audiences the real pleasure of this play.

Mr. Burstein who if truth be told, owns any role he plays, is Matt Friedman. True the role will always conjure its creation by Judd Hirsch’s (in 1979), but Mr. Burstein is not in anyone’s shadow. He is larger than his physical self yet not in anyway overblown. He plumbs the humor while swallowing the pain. Matt Friedman could easily become pitiable, but Burstein never allows that to occur. Ms. Paulson could easily become set dressing in his presence but under Michael Wilson’s direction they shine equally upon the stage. While we at times we become frustrated by Sally, we never once doubt her. The actors capture the realism and the poetry of Matt and Sally; we ache for them and we cheer for them.

The Roundabout Theatre’s Talley’s Folly opens on March 5th

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Posted by on February 28, 2013 in Uncategorized


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Sons of the Prophet – Review

Sons of the Prophet, a new play by Stephen Karam, has recently opened at the Roundabout at Laura Pels.  The play is a beautifully rendered portrait of broken people.  The (euphemistic) curtain rises with the frightening realistic sounds (M.L. Dogg) of a car crash.  The remaining two hour narrative then centers around the accident, which eventually claims the life of the Douaihy patriarch.  It is a relatively simple story which is told with and honesty and artistry rarely seen.  Directed by Peter DuBois, and with a cast of eight ranging from award winning Joanna Gleason to those making their New York premiere, the production achieves musicality.  When David Mamet plays are done well, they can sound like a well seasoned jazz band.  Sons of the Prophet is jazz as well, but gentler, softer, more whole notes than black keys.  There is a realism, as in when people talk over one another, partnered with perfectly modulated (non-amplified) tones that intensifies the drama.

The Douaiy family is distantly related to Khalil Gibran (hence the title of the play) and projected references to his tome are used to wonderful effect.  The sets (Anna Louizos) are very clever and are incredibly helpful in a play with more than a dozen scenes.  This play is crafted so well, and is so very honest in its depiction of human beings.  But it is the performances that really make it soar.  Ms. Gleason (looking ravishing) plays her character, Gloria, as if she is made of glass.  It is a gorgeous performance of a not entirely sympathetic character.  The other standouts (for me) were Yusef Bulos (Uncle Bill) and Chris Perfetti (Charles.)  I felt as if I was voyeur, peeking into the window of an interesting family.

It is also worth mentioning that this very moving drama is hysterically funny.  Knee slapping, choking on candy, funny.  I know it’s a good time when I get dirty looks from those around me.  I think it safe to say that this play will appeal to almost everyone.  If laughing, or crying is not your thing, perhaps the scathing commentary on the state of our nation’s healthcare system might appeal to you.  This production will stay with me for some time.  There were so many moments, silent and otherwise, that spoke to the complexities of life.  At its core, it is a meditation on life.  A messy meditation, created not for pages with pithy chapter titles, but for very talented artists and a grateful audience.


Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


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