B+/A-

Hoo-rah!

  • Wow. I don’t know if it was just because this was a world-premiere performance, but the energy and acting here was absolutely superb on all fronts.
  • Giancarlo Esposito was given the chance to be both more loud/extroverted, and much more quiet/vulnerable than when he plays Gus on Breaking Bad. That guy has such control of his craft– such a pleasure to watch.
  • The performance of the night, however, might actually go to Zach Grenier who plays a stroke victim with a troubled past. It would have been so easy for his character to become one-dimensional Eeyore-esque comedic relief, but the depth of his performance provided both levity and powerful weight to many of the themes in the show, including a distrust of miracles and the corrupting influence of money.
  • Excellent pacing. Pauses were all in the right places. Lovely quiet scenes told mountains about the characters in them (and in later scenes, wordlessly forged a connection between them)
  • Characters played off each other with genuine conflict– I had empathy for all involved in this as they all felt like the protagonists in their own way.
  • As soon as I realized the main couple was an interracial marriage I was dreading some over-wrought commentary on it. Race actually had really nothing to do with the story (despite three minority cast members), and I appreciated that. There were plenty of ‘hot topics’ in the play that would have been easy to zoom in on to the point where you can virtually hear the writer shouting their political stance from the characters’ mouths, but that was never the case here.
  • The metaphor was super heavy-handed, but I loved a scene where two guys eat a gingerbread house while discussing foreclosure. Delicious.
  • Last scene could have been a disaster– all the characters in a tight space talking for what felt like about half an hour with almost no pauses. A real tight rope, but it was pulled off flawlessly, bouncing between humor, sadness, tension, insight, and emotional reversals. Masterful.
  • Favorite lines all came from the husband: “I’m a secular Jew. I don’t know what that is, but there’s a lot of us!”  and “My doctor just died. He told me I would die and now he’s dead. You know what I call that? Justice.”

Blech…

  • distracting snowflakes kept falling the entire show from the catwalk (mistake)
  • ending wanted to end on a cathartic note… instead it was just a pensive note.
  • while it was super well-acted and scripted, it didn’t quite rock my world. New York Theatre is still too safe for me.

Tales from the Stagedoor…

  • Giancarlo Esposito is a great big ball of enthusiasm and energy. Lots of hugs and kisses to people he knew, and genuine kindness and gratefulness toward people he didn’t know (like me). When he told me stories, he put his hand on my shoulder; very mentor-like. He’s so busy now between this, Once Upon a Time, and the new JJ Abrams/Jon Favreau show Revolution. On the downlow– he has one week of free time in the coming months and it will likely be devoted to filming some Breaking Bad flashbacks.
  • Zach Grenier was very low-key and dismissive of his remarkable performance. Poor guy deserves to have his career skyrocket the way Mr. Esposito’s is. Surprisingly, I got a bashful laugh out of him when I said I loved him in Fight Club.
  • John Patrick Shanley is super smiley. And has a really young wife/girlfriend(?) He was happy with the premiere. We talked about pacing and how impressive it was that the last scene came together so well. He said “it was a real bitch to write.” No kidding.