Last Edit: sergius 12:28 pm EST 11/25/19
Posted by: sergius 12:21 pm EST 11/25/19

It won a Pulitzer Prize, but THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA is not one of Foote's better plays. And it's especially hard to judge its merits here because the two leading actors are miscast. Kristine Nielsen, a singular talent, always seems to be in cahoots with an audience; she has perfected the sort of arched eyebrow performance that regularly keeps her at a distance from the character she's playing and often registers as camp. Though she's tries gamely to still this idiosyncrasy here, she's just wrong for the part. And Aidan Quinn, shuffling between a Brooklyn and a Southern patois, can't find the right register for this character. Curiously, the play evokes both CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF and DEATH OF A SALESMAN. Though it was written in 1995, it could have just as easily premiered in 1955. Foote, always something of an old-fashioned playwright, demands a depth of delicacy that's missing here. Consequently, the play seems more comedic than I suspect Foote intended. Its real sense of sorrow feels merely approximate.

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