Cat on a Hot Tin Roof Prowls

But Dead Man's Cell Phone and Parlour Song ring hollow

Jealousy! Spite! Anger! Anika Noni Rose and Terrence Howard in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Joan Marcus
Jealousy! Spite! Anger! Anika Noni Rose and Terrence Howard in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Details

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
By Tennessee Williams
Broadhurst Theatre
235 West 44th Street
212-239-6200

Dead Man's Cell Phone
By Sarah Ruhl
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street
212-279-4200

Parlour Song
By Jez Butterworth
Atlantic Theater
336 West 20th Street
212-279-4200

Jez Butterworth's Parlour Song, at the Atlantic, makes a more adult effort at seriousness but gets little further, because it combines drably overworked material—unhappy marriages and suburban adultery, ho-hum—with a laborious, often pretentious approach. Butterworth's non-hero (Chris Bauer) is a demolition expert who pointlessly accumulates antique objects; his wife (Emily Mortimer) fancies the hunky car-wash manager (Jonathan Cake) down the road; the antique objects start inexplicably disappearing. It shouldn't take 95 minutes for a demolitionist to figure out what's going on, and there's no particular need for anyone else to sit through it. The actors, under Neil Pepe's direction, do reasonably, but Parlour Song itself is just another pointlessly accumulated antique. No actual parlor songs are sung in it, by the way; replacing a few of its duller monologues with a chorus or two of "Come Into the Garden, Maud" would improve it greatly.

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