Friday, September 25, 2009

In the Daylight


By Tony Glazer. Directed by John Gould Rubin. McGinn-Cazale Theatre. (CLOSED)

Responses range widely on Tony Glazer's lurid dysfunctional-family drama, with the divide centering on whether its twists and turns are thrilling or wearying, convincing or ridiculous; in the middle are a few critics who seem to enjoy themselves despite their objections. Most admire Chris Barreca's striking set, but they're as divided on the cast and the direction as they are on the play itself.

Talk Entertainment A
(Oscar E Moore) The unfinished business is a delight to see unfold. Playwright Tony Glazer has written a clever, taut two act modern day Greek tragedy with a bit of Agatha Christie thrown in for good measure. In The Daylight is full of shadows and surprises...Under the bold direction of John Gould Rubin the actors flourish. They are on the edge of satire and melodrama but never fall into the abyss. They are all perfectly cast. I don’t want to spoil anything for you by giving away anything else. In The Daylight is a rare find. Exciting, suspenseful and grotesquely funny.

Show Business B+
(Bryan Clark) Sometimes goofy, definitely off-kilter and thoroughly amusing...The dialogue is mostly a cascade of one-liners, occasionally broken up by expositional speeches. Yet the talented cast makes it work. Concetta Tomei has a pitch-perfect tone as the play’s matriarch; Sharon Maguire is remarkably successful in the poorly drawn role of the sister; Ashley Austin Morris steals the show as the surprise visitor. Only Joseph Urla is miscast as the prodigal brother, giving a twitchy performance that belongs in a different production. Christopher Barreca’s monochrome foyer is the visual main attraction.

The New York Times C+
(Neil Genzlinger) The actors race through the first act of Tony Glazer’s “In the Daylight” as if they had someplace else to be, not even trying to establish rhythm or rapport and giving Mr. Glazer’s barbs and witticisms no chance to land. Maybe it’s because the entertaining parts of this dysfunctional-family story all lie in the second act, and they’re eager to get the audience there before it loses interest...When the secrets finally do drop in Act II, they’re pretty tasty. So is Ashley Austin Morris, who plays a fan of Martin’s who met him on the plane ride home.

Backstage C-
(Adam R. Perlman) Big themes and his milieu of family reunion, serious boozing, and dark secrets percolating are rendered ridiculous by a left turn into tawdry potboiler territory...Still, it's possible for a while to overlook the large plot holes and the unfocused direction from John Gould Rubin. A lot can be forgiven on account of sharp dialogue...The cast—which also includes Concetta Tomei as Marty's own Mommie Dearest, Sharon Maguire as his hard-bitten sister, and Jay Patterson as dad's skulking specter—handles the material well enough...Genre mixing can be tremendously effective, but there has to be a reason for it. Self-sabotage isn't good enough.

Talkin' Broadway D+
(Matthew Murray) There’s no way this could even be considered a passable play, but Glazer and his director, John Gould Rubin, ensure you’re having some kind of a good time even as you’re having a bad one...Glazer is obviously going the route Tracy Letts took in August: Osage County of injecting every imaginable sleazy horror he can into his dysfunctional family, but he does it with considerably less style, grace, and honesty. By the time you understand everything about how and why these people behave as they do, you’ve long since stopped caring.

Lighting & Sound America D+
(David Barbour) Glazer is not an untalented writer--his last piece, Stain, about an equally troubled family, certainly had its moments--but here his carving knife is thoroughly dull, and the constant drumbeat of mean-spirited, faux-sophisticated remarks quickly wears one down. The characters are the thinnest of cardboard--the alcoholic writer, the castrating mother--and everyone speaks in the same unpleasant, unfunny voice. The actors, under the direction of John Gould Rubin, attack their lines with vigor, to little effect. (There's an appallingly high level of screaming.)...The rest of the production is striking, if also occasionally annoying.

Talk Entertainment A 13; Show Business B+ 11; The New York Times C+ 8; Backstage C- 6; Talkin' Broadway D+ 5; Lighting & Sound America D+ 5; 48/5=9.6 (B)


Anonymous said...

There were many other good reviews for this piece -- I'm curious why those were left out in the averaging. See these links: (scroll down)

It's interesting to note in this "review round up" that the blogger included almost all of the bad reviews but became very selective about posting the good ones -- not very accurate if you're trying to have an actual average.

isaac butler said...

Hello "Anonymous",

With the exception of Tynan's Anger, all of those come from sources we don't usually cover. It has nothing to do with the positive or negative aspects of the review. There was one-- actually maybe there were a couple-- of positive reviews for my own show MilkMilkLemonade that we didn't include for the same reason.

Also... It's not like your show got a D. It got a B. And the grades here include an A and a B+.

Anonymous said...

Just seems selective is all. If Tynansagner is one you usually draw from, how come you didn't this time. It just seems that if you are going to do a "review roundup" you should pull from all reviews, not just a random selection.

And for clarification, I saw this show last week, and am obviously a big fan, but it is not "mine" per se. Thank you for your response

Rob Weinert-Kendt said...

Dear Anonymous:

Though we know and like Ethan's blog, we don't "usually" feature his reviews because, to our knowledge, he doesn't "usually" do theatre reviews. We're always open to looking at new review sources, but when it comes to independent bloggers, we tend to include only folks who have carved out a niche as committed theater reviewers, like Aaron Riccio or Patrick Lee.

NYCDirector&Teacher said...

I actually have to support your choice not to include blog reviews like the ones Anonymous listed. Keeping your list selective to only legitimate print and dedicated internet theatre blogs (Theatermania, Backstage, Gothamist, NYTheatre, Blogcritics, Curtainup, Aaron Riccio, etc.) allows me as an audience member to know the scale in which you're "grading" the shows. By knowing that you're using trusted sources, I can have faith that you're giving me the clearest and most fair assessment of what legitimate critics are thinking out there. All the blogs anonymous listed are sites I've never heard of (or far too young or infrequent a blog for anyone to take seriously just yet), so why would I consider them legitimate reviews at this point? In this day and age, it's too easy to get a friend to shill a show on their personal blogs. I applaud you for having standards for critic-o-meter and look forward in continuing to use it as a resource for information for myself and my theatre students. Thank you.