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GARY - before it closes
Last Edit: singleticket 05:34 pm EDT 06/12/19
Posted by: singleticket 05:30 pm EDT 06/12/19

I'm glad I was able to see GARY before it closed. Perhaps because the show is closing there seems to be an ease and sweetness of playing that might have not been there at the beginning. I'm not a fan of Nathan Lane but I liked him very much in this role. I never felt that Lane was imposing his persona on the character. Gary, the clown that aspires to be a fool and Nathan Lane the beloved funnyman of Broadway harmonized beautifully in the performance I saw. I think I found Julie White's clowning to be more satifying than Kristine Nielson's but, like Lane's performance, the rubbery faces and vocal drollery that each employed never felt like mugging that upstaged the story. It was all of a piece.

I also liked George C. Wolfe's direction. It did move the performance of the text from one piece of schtick to another but so does Taylor Mac's script. Much of the dialogue was rushed through and I lost the thread of quite a few monologues. It didn't seem to matter as the points that Mac's script wants to stress are stressed very clearly and the audience appeared to understand and respond to each.

I loved the production design and the delightful and surprising "Fooling" towards the end of the show. At first I thought that the tradition of The Ridiculous that Mac is following wouldn't read on Broadway. It read beautifully and it felt entirely organic in the Booth Theater. I also loved the bodies that looked like something of a cross between puppets and uglydolls. Though they hit you on some level as gore and human savagery, they also felt delightfully cuddly and plushy which leads me to Mac's text itself.

GARY's text is a pastiche of dramatic versifiying in a classical mode, feminist account-taking of the atrocities of the Patriarchy and a sermon on Art's ability to give us the hope to rise out of the dung heap of human cruelty. It has neither what I would call a compelling dramatic form or a compelling poetics. It succeeds largely because Mac has a sound and finely tuned instinct for theatrical fun. It is also sentimental. It wants to offer us hope in a hopeless world. And that's a far more generous offer to an audience than nearly anything on offer on Broadway now.
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