Nothing, Interrupted

The closest the evening got to any higher dramatic temperature was a monologue, delivered with showstopping ferocity by David Greenspan, in which the composer's new lover, a drama critic, relives, not his passion for someone else, but a drunken fury in which he declares his desire to be accepted as himself. That somebody involved in the onstage events has taken up this offer amounts to no more than a footnote after the monologue's climax; and the reality of the whole spiel is vitiated, anyway, by Tolan's naming the drama critic Ben: Everybody in New York knows that there are no drama critics named Ben. Greenspan, sleekly smug, seemed to coat his character's empty aphorisms with honey as they spiraled off his tongue, provoking the few smiles that occurred after Testa's toning down. Occasionally, Brian Kulick's staging prodded a meager laugh or two out of the recurring farce business. But my hopes of substance and pleasure were almost gone by the time Lola Pashalinski arrived. The heroine had spoken of getting her legs waxed, and here was the queen of the Ridiculous, toting a Russian accent and a massage table, both slightly unwieldy.

The Wax cast: out of the closet and into the monologues
photo: Joan Marcus
The Wax cast: out of the closet and into the monologues

Details

The Wax
By Kathleen Tolan
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street 212-279-4200

Do you think the redoubtable Pashalinski saved the evening? Don't kid yourself: This is a postmodern farce, and all expectations must be disappointed equally. She did her routine well, pretending to pluck the hairs from Young's dainty legs as she poured out the monologue that all Russian émigrés doing menial jobs deliver in American plays, about Pushkin and Chekhov and how no American pain can be as great as Russia's pain. I've heard versions of it so often, I'm no longer sure who actually thought it up, the émigrés or the playwrights. Pashalinski, wisely, declined to wallow in it, ending the evening with the sense that, after all, a different play from another culture and a past era would have been an improvement. The cast makes pleasant enough company; the conversation Tolan supplies for them is never foolish in itself. But the desire to engage the audience in any transaction remotely resembling a dramatic event does not seem to have occurred to her. She has better things to do with her time, one feels, than writing plays. The public may come in eager to make love; Tolan, like her heroine, is busy thinking about something else.

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