I’m super late to the party on this, but can I just say how excited I am for this to be onstage again? This show is a gem. I adored it at MTC last season and I will definitely be paying $$ to see it again downtown. I’m sure there will be some kind rush, so you should go check it out too.
The Country House, by Donald Margulies, opened a couple of weeks ago to stellar reviews at the Samuel Friedman Theatre. It was about a bunch of actors (a family, multiple generations) who gather at their summer home to honor the death of the mother of the family who passed the year before.
There were tons of funny and meaningful one-liners in the first act, but the first act ended with a cliche moment that was only meant to give the playwright a reason to write a second act. While I enjoyed the first act a lot, it was obvious Margulies had no idea where to go in the second act. It had a few moments, but it was pretty pointless.
The performances were great though: Blythe Danner was wonderful as the famous dame of the family, Daniel Sunjata was wonderful and a bit sleazy as Michael Astor (the famous TV actor who needed a place to stay), and Sarah Steele was probably my favorite, as the Danner’s granddaughter, and the only one in the family who wasn’t in show business, Susie. I’ve seen her in many shows and she’s always fabulous and this performance was no different. Kate Jennings Grant was also endearing as the new wife to Walter (the funny David Rasche), who was obviously a little uncomfortable being there.
Although it had it’s moments, MTC has produced more focused work in the past and I can’t wait to see what they have in store next.
Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Casa Valentina (written by Harvey Fierstein) was both educational and thought provoking. Inspired by true events that took place at the Chevalier d’Eon Resort in the Catskills in 1962, it was about a small group of men (all claiming to be heterosexual with wives and children at home) who would come to the resort to spend the weekends dressing in drag. It is an interesting notion to think that there are men who like dressing in women’s clothing just for fun who are straight and vice versa. it’s one that I’m still trying to sort through in my head.
Brilliant performances were given all around, starting with Patrick Page and Mare Winningham as George and Rita, the resort’s owners, to John Collum and Tom McGowan as some of the regulars at the resort.
Though I found it a bit slow during a couple of moments, I still enjoyed it. It showed me something new, something real.
The day after These Paper Bullets, my friend Kristen and I went to see a matinee of Manhattan Theatre Club’s newest production at their off-Broadway space, Tales from Red Vienna by David Grimm. I jumped at the chance because… well: Nina Arianda. What was the surprise second best part? Michael Esper. I’d totally forgotten that he was doing a new show, so that was pretty rad too.
The play is about a woman (Arianda) who’s husband is assumed to be dead after he’s unheard from in two years after World War II and like many women (apparently) during that time, she turns to prostitution to pay the bills. Her world is turned upside down when she is set up by a friend (more like a frenemy) with the man (Esper) who happened to have been her first customer.
It was interesting and I enjoyed it. I enjoyed Arianda way more in Venus in Fur, but I suppose I have to succumb to the fact that not every piece Arianda works on will be Venus in Fur. Esper was, of course, fantastic. he’s actually such a brilliant dramatic actor – something that never would’ve been apparent if you only knew his work in American Idiot.
Would I recommend this just to see Nina Arianda and Michael Esper? Probably. Just go.