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You're on Vacation, and for Some Reason the Theater Isn't


Next to it, Kate Robin's Intrigue With Fayelooks almost respectably solid. Robin's trouble, antithetical to Duras's, is that her dramatic structure is altogether too pat. A live-together couple, she a therapist and he a wannabe filmmaker, try to strengthen their bond by recording their time apart from each other on video. Predictably, this burgeons into a marketable project for him (through a female TV producer with whom he's had a one-night stand). Less predictably, she turns out to be hot for the fame a nationwide airing of their domestic difficulties might bring, while he, magically grown virtuous and mature from the experience, rejects the chance. All of which would be fine, if you could believe it for one instant of the muddled but sincere woman and the chronically dishonest, self-serving man you've watched for most of the evening. While the first act has the excruciating dullness of microscopic accuracy, much of what comes after the break replaces it with the glib ring of TV story editing. More dismissive reviewers have used the occasion to send Robin, who showed some early promise as a playwright, back to her work on Six Feet Under. I'm inclined to think that, though this script is unsalvageable, it suggests she has enough dramatic sense—and enough hunger for what's genuine—to make us hope that she might turn up with a real play sometime.

Jim Simpson's production makes this one look real enough, at least on the surface, though he's oddly directed its many interpolated video clips as overacted celebrity camp. Benjamin Bratt deepens the flaw in Robin's writing with one of those smooth, empty performances young media stars often give onstage: every tiny gesture believable, but not an ounce of conviction behind it. Juliana Margulies, in contrast, not only grounds her character strongly but goes way beyond the script in the blinding fury with which she plays her climactic tantrum, confirming the strong impression she made in the even more factitious Ten Unknowns: This is an actress I'd like to see tested in a great dramatic role, without delay.

Mikel Sarah Lambert and Gareth Saxe in The Daughter-in-Law: miner disturbances
photo: Richard Termine
Mikel Sarah Lambert and Gareth Saxe in The Daughter-in-Law: miner disturbances

Details

The Daughter-in-Law
By D.H. Lawrence
Mint Theatre
311 West 43rd Street
212-315-0231

Savannah Bay
By Marguerite Duras
Translated by Barbara Bray
Classic Stage Company
136 East 13th Street
212-677-4210

Intrigue With Faye
By Kate Robin
MCC at the Acorn
410 West 42nd Street
212-279-4200

St. Crispin's Day
By Matt Pepper
Rattlestick Theatre
224 Waverly Place
212-868-4444

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Without delay is how Matt Pepper seems to have written St. Crispin's Day, as if he were rushing to beat the Delacorte's Henry V into town. A sort of "Porky's goes to Agincourt," it injects Shakespeare's low-comic soldiers with post-Gulf War cynicism and Monty Python mock-orotundity, entirely oblivious to the notion that Shakespeare, and a few thousand of his successors, have beaten it on both counts. It's hard to imagine anyone thinking there's much comedy, let alone satiric revelation, left to be squeezed from the idea of Fluellen as a macho closet queen, or Henry himself as a blasé manipulator: Put M*A*S*Hin medieval burlap and it's still a rerun. Simon Hammerstein's staging keeps the rowdy-dow steadily on the move, however, and some of his performers—notably David Wilson Barnes, Alex Draper, Michael Gladis, and Darren Goldstein—come off considerably better than their material.

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