It wasn't the longest Off-Broadway run in history, but the Rebellion Theatre Company's revival of Austin Pendleton's terse drama-comedy Uncle Bob easily bested the performance of the play's original 1995 New York premiere. In all the mounting will have played 15 previews and 78 performances.
Gale Harold, one of the stars of television's controversial series, "Queer as Folk," and George Morfogen were the first stars of Uncle Bob, which opened April 23 at Off-Broadway's Soho Playhouse. Previews began April 11. Halfway through the run, Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "Third Rock From the Sun" replaced Harold. The production is directed by Courtney Moorhead.
Morforgen was the original Uncle Bob when the drama premiered in New York City (in fact, the part was written for him). This will mark the first time he has played the role since then; in subsequent productions across the nation, Pendleton himself often played Bob.
A company called Rebellion would seem the right troupe to present the provocative Uncle Bob. The taut, two-person drama was a bit of a success de scandale when the Mint Theatre first produced it in Manhattan in early 1995. The title character is a fiercely intelligent and highly opinionated wash-out who now lives in a small Greenwich Village basement flat on the charity of his brother. Bob's only real connection to his family is with Josh, his jaded, slacker nephew. Between Bob's status as a failed former prodigy now suffering from perhaps willfully contracted AIDS and Josh's propensity to crash new cars and otherwise squander his potential, the two are perfect kindred spirits. Their mutual affection for each other, however, goes a little too far by play's end. Pendleton is best known as an actor, with credits like The Diary of Anne Frank, Fiddler on the Roof and The Last Sweet Days of Isaac under his belt. He recently essayed the title role in Richard II at the Frog and Peach company in NYC. He also has directed dozens of productions, including Say Goodnight, Gracie, The Runner Stumbles and The Little Foxes on Broadway. He is currently played Uncle Vanya at the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.
Uncle Bob is Pendleton's second play. Before it, he wrote Booth, about the Booth theatrical family. His most recent work is Orson's Shadow, which has received productions at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, the Williamstown Theatre Festival and the Westport Country Playhouse. After Uncle Bob played the Mint, it was produced at Steppenwolf, with Pendleton playing the title role.
—By Robert Simonson