He's been Downtown royalty for over a year now, but last week New York Times critic Ben Brantley crowned Richard Maxwell the King of Off-Off Broadway, penning a glowing review of the playwright-director's latest, Boxing 2000. The Paper of Record then followed up the rave with a Sept. 25 profile. As a result, the production, now playing at the Present Company Theatorium, has added performances. Beginning Sept. 27, a 10 PM will be tacked on every evening. The play, which has been running at 8 PM since Sept. 6, is still scheduled to close Sept. 30.
Richard Maxwell's meteoric success in the Downtown theatre scene has been one of the more remarkable Off-Off-Broadway stories of the past two years. The playwright-director has bounced from success to success, staging such critically hailed plays as House and Showy Lady Slipper at P.S. 122 and Cowboys and Indians at Soho Rep. The first of these won a 1999 Obie Award.
At the same time, Maxwell has become a darling of the international circuit, mounting his work at the Holland Festival in Amsterdam, Theater der Welt and The Hebbel-Theater in Berlin, The Exit Festival and the Via Festival in France, The Kaaitheater in Brussels, and The Vienna Festival in Austria.
The denizens of Maxwell's plays typically speak with all the emotion of a dial-tone, retaining a dispassionate mein and delivery whether in everyday conversation or heated argument. Breaking up these zombie-like exchanges are occasional songs, also written by Maxwell and typically resembling schlocky contemporary pop ballads. Critics have called Maxwell an aesthetic descendant of such figures as Samuel Beckett, Sam Shepard, Eugene Ionesco and Richard Foreman.
Boxing 2000 -- a venture of Maxwell's new company, The New York City Players -- concerns a pair of New York City half-brothers. The older sibling trains the younger for a boxing match, while they talk about "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Also taking part in the drama are a father and one of the brother's girlfriend. Maxwell directs a cast including Lakpa Bhutia, Jim Fletcher, Gladys Perez, Candido Rivera, Chris Sullivan, Benjamin Tejeda and Robert Torres.
Past productions in the Present Company Theatorium have included Brian Parks' American Absurdum (currently a hit at the Edinburgh Fringe), C. J. Hopkins' Horse Country and Mark Lonergan's Velo-City.
Tickets are $15. The Theatorium is located at 196-198 Stanton Street. For more information, call (212) 420-8877.
--By Robert Simonson