Let's Talk Off Broadway

Yvonne Korshak reviews Off-Broadway, Broadway, Film and Art

Tag: A. R. Gurney

TEACHER AND STUDENT L-R Dan Amboyer as Dan Proctor and Rodney Richardson and Gerald Caskey. Photo Joan Marcus.

Review | Two Class Acts | Two Premieres by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Stafford Arima | Flea Theater

… when the syllabus is better than the class … 

Two one-act plays by A. R. Gurney are presented in tandem, Ajax, as in the ancient Greek hero, and Squash, as in the game.  Having enjoyed many Gurney plays, I was keen to see these but Ajax and Squash are not Gurney at his best.

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Review | Love & Money by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Mark Lamos | Signature Theatre

Will the rich dowager be fooled by the tall, handsome and, in her WASP world, exotic Black con man who has a lot of smooth dance moves?  That is the question.

Cornelia, a wealthy WASP dowager (emphasis on WASP is Gurney’s) is closing down her house with all its rich furnishings (great set by Michael Yeargan) to move to some sort of elder living which she with vivacious irony refers to as a “nursing home.”

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Carolyn McCormick and Peter Scolari. Photo Joan Marcus

Review | Family Furniture by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Thomas Kail | Flea Theater

“My ancestors fought the Indians along the Mohawk River before they signed up with George Washington,” says Russell, father of the family. “Your mother’s great great grandfather helped plan and design the Erie Canal.” This is an amusing, beautifully observed and perfectly acted play about an upper class “WASP” family — Gurney’s favorite territory — on the cusp of social change in the aftermath of World War II.  It’s set in 1954 at a summer lake house near Buffalo, NY. 

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Review | The Old Boy by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jonathan Silverstein | Keen Company | Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row

This is a middling play — if you see it you’re not sorry but you don’t need to see it.   Gurney is very talented at engaging the viewer with recognizable character types involved in contemporary topics.  The Old Boy was first produced in 1991. 

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L-R Danny Rivera as Pedro, Ariel Woodiwiss as Lena, Kathy Najima as Phyllis, Reg E Cathey as Pontius. Photo Hunter Canning

Review | Heresy by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

Heresy is topical, very funny, and totally enjoyable modern parable filled with references to today’s politics and based, roughly, on the life of Christ.  Some of the characters have Biblical names, like Mary for the mother of Chris, her idealistic, purist son currently in jail.  But Gurney’s a wonderfully surprising playwright so you can’t guess from that what to expect.

Gurney's Heresy at the Flea Theater

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Office Hours by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Featuring The Bats | Flea Theater

… twilight of the Great Books …

Office Hours is a tender and passionate love story about — the love Humanities professors hold for the great books of the western tradition just when the core focus (aka “privileging”) of these books is on the way out.  It’s also a fine comedy.

We’re in the late 1960’s, and in a flexible, amusing setting of young professors’ offices.  The profs are all teaching sections of the required two-semester Western Tradition core course but they’re worried.  Rumor has it that this course is to be eliminated.  No more core.  Good-bye dead white males.  The young teachers, concerned individually about their futures, share an overriding concern: for Homer, Aeschylus, Virgil, Dante and Shakespeare.

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Review | A Light Lunch by A. R. Gurney | Directed by Jim Simpson | Flea Theater

This new play is inspired by our recent presidential elections: the issues are alive and the play sparkles with vitality — and partisanship.  Obama supporters, don’t miss it!  Bush supporters might do better to stay away.

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