Monday, December 8, 2008



By Billy Goda. Directed by Scott Zigler. At the Westside Theatre. (CLOSED)

For the most part, critics are downright hostile to Billy Goda's new thriller Dust. If it weren't for the positive ink spilled in praise of its cast (particularly Urinetown's Hunter Foster) this show would have been rackin' up the F-bombs. Jennifer Farrar at the AP and Marc Miller at Backstage beg to differ, praising the show as good shallow fun.

Associated Press A-
(Jennifer Farrar) Excellent acting and writing laced with mordant humor propel the story of a conflict between two ego-driven men that escalates beyond reason, although the thrills are at times uneven.

Backstage B
(Marc Miller) Shallow, enjoyable entertainment... Masur and Foster are excellent, but neither can fill in the blanks in their characters' histories... But under Scott Zigler's fast-paced direction, and with the aid of the always-dependable Rick Sordelet's fight choreography, they snarl and glower and have at one another rivetingly.

NYTimes C+
(Rachel Saltz) Dust, billed as a thriller, fails to convince or to generate much heat. The problem is that Martin and Zeke are plot-driven creatures, repositories for ideas about men behaving badly, rather than organic characters. Their conflict’s escalating violence — the play’s motor — becomes a conceit that rarely feels inevitable.

Theatermania C-
(David Finkle) If Billy Goda's thriller Dust, now settled at the Westside Theatre, is remembered for anything -- a questionable proposition -- it will be as the play in which Hunter Foster changed his image from cute-sexy musical-comedy leading man with a touch of the goofball about him to an actor with unexpected emotional depth and prowess.

CurtainUp C-
(Deirdre Donovan) This sophomoric, power-driven work seems half-baked and even in its most harrowing moments goes dramatically limp... The evening is redeemed by the acting of the entire cast. Hunter Foster, well-known for his musical roles in Little Shop of Horrors and Urinetown, is well equipped to play the backsliding Zeke's attempt to regain his dignity after being fired. His down-at-heels character is the most likable one in the story, and Foster wisely doesn't play him with Hallmark sentimentality.

Time Out NY D+
(Rob Weinert-Kendt) A flavorless mulligan stew of undercooked relationship drama and predigested genre clichés. I counted precisely one spring-loaded surprise in its leisurely hundred minutes and roughly half a scene of genuine tension...With so little to chew on, most of the actors hunker down into energy-saver mode...Wobbly and weak, Dust should have stayed on the shelf.

New York Post D-
(Frank Scheck) The play is ineffective both in its half-hearted attempts to explore its themes of social class and power and, on a purely thriller level, with neither the clichéd writing nor Scott Zigler's tentative staging achieving the needed dramatic tension. D-
(David Gordon) Banal... Goda provides too much unnecessary exposition and his play is thrilling for a total of five minutes.

Variety D-
(Sam Thielman) A play as insignificant and untidy as its title, Billy Goda's "Dust" squanders its A-list cast and crew on an astonishingly lazy narrative that wouldn't fill out a "Law and Order" episode without padding... With the combined powers of "Urinetown" star Hunter Foster, former Atlantic Theater Company a.d. Scott Zigler and magnetic newcomer Laura E. Campbell, "Dust" is very nearly worth sitting through.

Hartford Courant F
(Malcolm Johnson) Billy Goda's play, which opened Thursday downstairs at the Westside Theatre, begins with the big man on a treadmill at the Essex House. It turns out to be a treadmill to oblivion... Scott Zigler's production drags on and on, seeming much longer than two hours.

AP A- 12; Backstage B 10; NYT C+ 8; TM C- 6; CurtainUp C- 6; TONY D+ 5; NYP D- 3; NYTheatre D- 3; Variety D-3; Hartford Courant F 1; TOTAL: 57/10 = 5.7 (C-)

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