Posted by: NewtonUK 07:54 am EDT 04/17/17

Linked below is Brantley's review of the Richard Maxwell play SAMARA as directed by Sarah Benson for Soho Rep at the new ART NY Space on far west 53rd Street. Taking a page from Sam Gold's book, Ms BEnson and her designers have created an environment for the production where we all set on plastic cartons with a foam cushion we collect ourseleves one the way in (if the house staff had bothered to tell us to). The seats are shallow, and the backs rigid additional cartons.

Speaking of shallow - I have kind of enjoyed Mr Maxwell's work in the past - his boxing play, his murder mystery play, his musical play, even his HENRY IV PART ONE at BAM, which 3/4 of the audience fled while the play was being performed. The Barbican center, which was a champion of Mr Maxwell;s work, cancelled their half of thh co=pro after seeing the HENRY4 at BAM. Yet, there was always, for me, a wry humor about the affectless speech and almost sonambulistic movement of his actors.

But SAMARA is a bridge too far for me. Ms Benson seems to take Mr Maxwell dead seriously, with no idea how to get the kind of performances that MR Maxwell can elicit from the actors who have been working with him for years.The actors aren't affectless. They are terrible. Sounding bored and uninterested. And though only 90 minutes long, it felt like 90 hours. It has at least three false endings. And each time it re started there were audible groans in the audience. One time, when you think its over, the lights flash in different colors - slowly. A seatmate asked 'Can we leave now'? I shrugged. Then a blackout. Then a dance number. Kind of.

I have no idea what this 90 minutes was about or was supposed to be about. The 'poetic' text is a parody of sophomoric pretentiousness. I had thought, with Mr Isherwood's departure from the Times, that this kind of pretentious, tedious, balderdash would no longer receive encomiums in the Time. Sadly, Mr Isherwood seems to have left some of the Kool AId in the fridge, and Mr Brantley has imbibed.

I continue to think that, at times, Mr Maxwell is a compelling, unique artist. As translated to the stage by Ms Benson, its 90 minutes of your life that you can never get back. How do I really feel?
Link Brantley Loves the Deadly

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