Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dividing the Estate

Horton Foote is a prolific, award winning playwright.  He's turned out an entertaining work for Lincoln Center Theatre in Dividing the Estate - but for all it's lofty aspirations, my dear Horton, it's no August: Osage County.   Not even close.  

The premise is quite common - children squabbling over how to divide the estate of their parents.  You find a little bit of everything and not enough of anything in the Gordon family - jealousy, envy, and sacrifice to name a few.   One matriarch (Elizabeth Ashley), two quite different daughters  - one married (Hallie Foote) , one widow (Penny Fuller) - one eldest son who is possibly a pedophile (Gerald McRaney) - an oddly nerdy nephew who runs the estate (Devon Abner), a bankrupt son-in-law (James DeMarse) and two spoiled nieces (Jenny Dare Paulin and Nicole Lowrance)- three black servants - two old (Arthur French and Pat Bowie) and one young (Keiana Richard) round out the cast.  

Perhaps the best element of this production was the magnificant set - dripping with detail, color and comfort - it consumed every inch of the viewable stage and really made it seem like we were peering in on a grand Texas estate.    As for the rest of the show - it had its moments, but overall, it underwhelmed me.   Elizabeth Ashley aptly held court while on stage - but the supporting cast wasn't able to do the same.  Oddly, Act I seemed more interesting than Act II and I found myself wondering if anything more was going to happen of interest as we inched toward the finale.  

The entire premise drags on and on - how to divide the estate... should they divide the estate... if they do divide the estate who gets what portion and when will they get their share... when it ultimately comes that they will divide the estate... more complications arise.   

Will this entire dysfunctional family have to live together under one roof?   Visit the  Booth Theatre and find out.