Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Adam Rapp has penned a tense, emotional, and darkly brilliant work that recently debuted at Playwrights Horizons.  I read somewhere that it is partially based on a real life experience in Mr. Rapp's youth.

The mesmerizingly intense story takes place all in a few hours in a New York City hotel room.   A mother from the mid-west played by Annette O'Toole (Nash Bridges, Smallville) takes her son, Christopher Denham (Master Harold and His Boys, The Lieutenant of Inishmore), to New York City with the explicit agenda of having "one last good time" to see a "big Broadway show". 

You see, she's got cancer and is dying.  He's what you might call a "classic American child"  - and by this i mean - a troubled, lonely boy of a broken home who claims to care about nothing, but really cares more than anyone will know.   Probably covers at least 50% of the population under 18 years old.  While at the hotel, Denham meets a mysterious young woman, Katherine Waterston (daughter of Sam Waterston) who draws him into her tangled web.  

Rapp's dialogue is calculated.  O'Toole portrayal of the sick mother was both physically convincing and emotionally brilliant.  Denham seems to have mastered the power of quiet introspection, hesitation and curiosity.  You soon learn that his overt actions say "i don't care", while his covert actions, body language, and emotions suggest otherwise.  Rapp infuses comedy at the most appropriate points.  He even takes a unique opportunity to poke fun at theatre audiences and standing ovations.  Very clever, Adam.  And very well received by the audience.  I did wonder how the audience sitting on the far left got to see the very funny opening scene.  I'll leave it at that.

I actually think the cast deserved a standing ovation at the end, but we were all so sensitized by the joke during the play - it didn't happen!