Review: The Little Foxes

I have this really bad habit of going to see shows for the last… I don’t know, two years and not having any idea what they’re about. This leads to some anxiety, but usually it just leads to low (or no) expectations. If I have no idea what it’s about, I have no idea whether it will be good or not. I went to see The Little Foxes this week because of it’s two stars: Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney. Because they’re fucking amazing on their own, so together onstage? Sign me up. Manhattan Theatre Club is producing this in rep (sorta) where Nixon and Linney are trading off roles every other performance. When I saw it, Nixon was playing Birdie (the shier of the two sisters-in-law) and Linney was playing Regina (the.. not-shy sister-in-law).

The Little Foxes is a play about southern life, wanting to keep the family money within the family, and trying to make a good investment by any means necessary. There are three siblings Regina (Linney), Oscar (Darren Goldstein), and Ben (Michael McKean) whom want to go into a business deal together with the family money. But Oscar and Ben (Birdie’s husband) need Regina’s husband’s, Horace (the lovely Richard Thomas), permission to use her money (hello, 1900) and he’s been away at a far away hospital recovering from what I presumed was TB. When he returns and refuses to go into the deal, the brothers and Oscar’s son, Leo, take matters into their own hands.

Written out, it sounds terribly complicated, but it’s much more clear onstage. I think The Little Foxes might be (wrongly?) perpetuating the joke that southerners marry their cousins, but that’s exactly what two of the brothers try to facilitate at one point. They decide that Leo, Oscar’s son, will marry Alexandra, Horace’s daughter. The sane thinking characters in the play object wholeheartedly.

This is a play about family and revenge in three acts, but they’re three quick acts. Special shout out to Caroline Stefanie Clay and Charles Turner who are featured as the servants, coming in and out to bookend the scenes.

Going into this, I had zero intention of seeing both casts, but now I definitely want to see Cynthia Nixon play Regina. It’s really hard to imagine her in the role that Linney played but she’s an amazing actress, so she’s definitely capable. Same with Linney in the role of Birdie.

Needless to say, it’s definitely worth seeing at least one of these casts.

I saw the re-mounting of Donald Margulies’ Times Stands Still this past Wednesdaythanks to my friend Patrick.  I was quite nervous because it’s been a while since I’ve watched a show that takes more than an hour and a half and one act, and after a long day at work, I wasn’t sure I could handle two acts.  Did I mention that the original production that, produced by Manhattan Theatre Club, that I saw in March wasn’t exactly my favorite?  I really wanted to see Christina Ricci onstage though and I crossed my fingers that some overhauling had been done on the script.

Time Stands Still tells the story of a couple, a war photographer (Laura Linney) and a war reporter (Brian Darcy James), who arrive home after the photographer had been badly injured.  They struggle between wanting to be in the middle of the action and wanting a safer and more conventional life.  Eric Bogosian plays Linney’s editor, with Christina Ricci as his newer (and much younger) girlfriend.  

James, Bogosian, and Linney are all terrific actors and once again did not disappoint.  It took me the entirety of the first act to warm up to Ricci but once the second act rolled around, her character had matured a bit, and she definitely had the affection of the audience who laughed at every joke she delivered.  

The first act flew by and had definitely been tightened up, unfortunately though the second act still needs tweaking.  It slowed during the middle of the first scene and failed to pick up speed again during the second scene.  

Overall I definitely enjoyed it more than the first time.  If you saw it at MTC and you’re skeptical of this new production, you needn’t worry because this may be a show that requires more than one viewing.  

I was very sweetly given a ticket to Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Time Stands Still yesterday evening.  I was very excited because of the cast (Eric Bogosian, Laura Linney, Alicia Silverstone, and Brian Darcy James) but I knew little-to-nothing about the plot.  I read a quick summary on Playbill and was semi-intrigued.  Did I mention I ended up sitting next to Barbara Walters?  That was kinda cool, though I didn’t say anything to her.  

It tells the story of a couple, a war photographer and journalist (Laura Linney and Brian Darcy James, respectively), and their friends (Eric Bogosian and Alicia Silverstone).  Linney’s character was injured in the Middle East and is just returning home.  As the play unfolds, the characters realize that time doesn’t stand still and that the things they want are changing.  The cast all gave compelling performances, and even Ms. Silverstone didn’t disappoint!  (Though her character was only slightly deeper than her character in Clueless.)

Time Stands Still was also two acts, about an hour and fifty five minutes, and never once was I bored and checking my playbill.  As you can see, I waited around after the show and yes, I brought my copy of Clueless for Ms. Silverstone to sign.  How many chances was I going to have to ask her?  Thanks to her I spent much of fourth grade in knee socks and plaid skirts (a habit I thankfully grew out of).  And Eric Bogosian was thrilled to sign my copy of Suburbia, which is my favorite play of his, telling me, “a girl after my own heart!”

Time Stands Still plays at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on 47th Street (between Broadway and 8th).

What’s on my agenda for next week?  Ages of the Moon on Sunday and The Miracle Worker on Wednesday!