PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 15-21: No Scarcity of Plays

News   PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, Sept. 15-21: No Scarcity of Plays Off-Broadway made a strong showing this week, letting the theatre world know it was up and running by opening a trio of significant productions.
Janel Maloney and Jeremy Shamos star in 100 Saints You Should Know.
Janel Maloney and Jeremy Shamos star in 100 Saints You Should Know. Photo by Joan Marcus

The week began with the first production of Playwrights Horizons' new season, Kate Fodor's 100 Saints You Should Know, directed by Ethan McSweeny, and featuring Lois Smith, Jeremy Shamos and Janel Moloney. Opening night on Sept. 18 saw the critics adopt a largely admiring tone for the gentle drama about a troubled priest and the various people who look to him for hope and/or answers he is not prepared to offer. Some found the drama less than inventive or surprising, but few could fault the cast or the thoughtful production.

Another significant production, Scarcity by rising playwright Lucy Thurber, opened Sept. 20 at the Atlantic Theatre Company, with Kristen Johnston and Jesse Eisenberg in the cast. No religious quandaries were on display here, and precious few morals or standards for decent behavior either. The drama depicted the tormented lives of a dysfunctional, poor rural Massachusetts family (drinking, pedophilia, a couple instances of suggested incest and some very bad parenting are all in evidence — also, sloppy housekeeping) as they react to the possible advancement of our of their members. A few critics found the play a compelling slice of life, but most spied flaws and inconsistencies in the story, and at least a couple zeroed in on what could be called the play's "ick" factor.

It's doubtful the family in Scarcity would ever get to meet the upper-crust clan found in A.R. Gurney's classic play The Dining Room, which is receiving an Off-Broadway revival at the Keen Company. The play spans a century and a single day at the same time, which plenty of WASPs coming and going. The play was Gurney's breakout effort back in 1982. (Imagine that, getting your big break at the age of 51.) Critics found the play still worked in its limited way and the Keen had done a largely respectable job with the play.

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There was Broadway news as well. The hit London production of the British sex farce (ah, that old standby of yesterday, the British sex farce), Boeing-Boeing — a title known as a staple in American stock, amateur and dinner theatres over the past 35 years — will become a Broadway production in spring 2008. Matthew Warchus directed the West End staging of Marc Camoletti and Beverley Cross's play about a swingin' bachelor and his three stewardess fiancees.

Mark Rylance, Roger Allam and Daisy Beaumont in the London production of <i>Boeing Boeing</i>.
Mark Rylance, Roger Allam and Daisy Beaumont in the London production of Boeing Boeing. Photo by Manuel Harlan