Thursday, December 18, 2008

New House Under Construction


Written and directed by Alan Hruska. 59E59. (CLOSED)

Critical reaction to Alan Hruska's five-character play about tangled intertwinings among two married couples ranged from baffled to disgusted, with his title providing easy fodder for put-downs (the Times headline: "This Place Is in Need of a Hammer and a Box of Nails"). A few critics tried their best to "get" what Hruska is up to with his shifting narratives and reversals among his characters, including a shrink who makes house calls, but most weren't buying this House.

Backstage C+
(Ron Cohen) Playwright Alan Hruska seems to be working with a different set of blueprints every 30 minutes or so in New House Under Construction, his problematic puzzle of a play...You can almost visualize the playwright grinning to himself as he enjoys the audience realizing how clever he is. Under Hruska's direction, the cast occasionally endows these goings-on with some credibility.

New Theatre Corps C+
(Amanda Cooper) This setup is made for a sarcastic little rom-com, but playwright/director Alan Hruska’s aspires for more. As past secrets come up, the play attempts to take on heavy-duty drama and ends up bogged down in a seriousness punctuated by consistent comic relief. What suffers the most is character development: these four are only defined by their problems...Though Kenneth Foy’s set is pleasing, the cast isn’t comfortable with its movement, and the tiny platform makes for crowded scenes. The performers all make a valiant effort, but with little to prop up their actions and reactions, it’s hard to take Hruska’s play as the serious meditation on life and choice that it aims to be. C
(David Gordon) Confused? Well, you're not alone. Hruska's play is very large in scope, very short in duration (approximately 95 minutes) and is populated by scenes so short that it led me to believe that this was once a film idea (the script, in a four-act structure, corroborates this notion). The time span of the play is a major source of the problems. It wasn't until I looked at the script that a lot of it was settled in my mind, but even then it was confusing. Perhaps it should be noted in the program. The performances are solid.

CurtainUp C-
(Elyse Sommer) Viewers may quickly find themselves irritated by the endless blackouts to the point of not caring where the psychological puzzle the playwright has constructed is going...All the tricks the multi-talented Hruska has up his sleeves revolve around a disappointingly old-fashioned sin and repent plot point and a somewhat confusing climax that winds things up with more of a whimper than a real bang...While the actors, especially the two men, perform competently, they are stuck with characters in search of a play that has something really meaningful to say.

The New York Times D
(Jason Zinoman) The scenes, competently performed in this Victory Theater Center production, are short and to the point. Little small talk or characterization interferes with the shocking revelations or bawdy interludes. Still, outside of the small thrill and spontaneity of lost lines, the various overheated narratives never escape the dutiful feel of someone working through a checklist. Imagine pornography, but without the sex.

BS C+ 8; New Theatre Corps C+ 8; C 7; CU C- 6; NYT D 4; 33/ = 6.6 (C)


Unknown said...

Variety review here:

Anonymous said...
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