"Go Back to Where You Are" at Playwrights Horizons, April 10, 2011
David Greenspan returns to off-Broadway with a new play at Playwrights Horizons. It seems to be a combination of The Sound and the Fury, Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and Title of Show.
Bernard (Brian Hutchison), a high school English teacher and erstwhile playwright, is off to visit his enormously-successful-and-grand-Broadway-actress-sister Claire (Lisa Banes) at her Hamptons manse, not far from the small family cabin in which he weekends. Along for the weekend are her friend, less-successful-actress Charlotte (Mariann Mayberry), Tom (Stephen Bogardus), Claire's frequent director, his partner Malcolm (Tim Hopper) and Claire's son Wally (Michael Izqueirdo). An early prologue introduces Passalus (Mr. Greenspan), a Greek chorus boy, trapped between worlds as God's minion longing for an end to the errands and chores of the Almighty. God wants Passalus to help Carolyn along in her life, escaping the thumb of Claire, her mother.
Passalus strikes a bargain with God that if he completes his task, and only that task, God will send him along to the afterlife.
Easier said than done.
Holding Passalus back is an interminable need to "fix" everything he encounters, and Claire's little weekend party is rife with opportunity. Claire still mourns her husband Robert's death. Wally still mourns his partner Mark's death. Bernard still mourns his partner Patrick's death. Charlotte still mourns her failing career. Malcolm mourns his dying relationship with Tom. (lots of death for a comedy)
Performances are rather uneven. Mr. Hutchison's nervous playwright works for the expository monologues, but falls short in the more emotional moments. Ms. Banes' grande dame of the theatre works better. Ms. Mayberry's Charlotte probably comes across the best. Mr. Greenspan pulls out his Queen Elizabeth from last year's Orlando for Passalus' alter ego, an 80 year old neighbor woman. Mr. Bogardus, ever handsome, cruises along, but Mr. Hopper's Malcolm writhes morosely as the spurned lover.
Mr. Greenspan's script bounces around, alot ("Is there no chronology in this play?"). Throughout, each character takes their leave to speak inner thoughts and reactions in direct address. Director Leigh Silverman keeps things moving and navigates the odd focus and scenes shifts. Rachel Hauck's beach deck seems to surrealistically unfold into the sunset.
Go Back to Where You Are runs through May 1. Click here for tickets.