Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Side Effects

Michael Weller wrote two plays back to back in 2007.  I saw Fifty Words at the Lortel then and just this week, the follow-up play, Side Effects, in the same (dumpy) theater.  I must say there's more to the idea then the reality of the link between the two plays.  They really aren't connected at all, except for the infamous phone call.  I thought there would be more.  But alas,  that doesn't detract from this or the prior play in any way at all.

This time around, Joely Richardson (Melinda Metz) and Cotter Smith (Hugh Metz) take the helm as the power couple for entire 100 minutes.  Like Weller's last play, children and others are only spoken about, never seen or heard.  Mr. Smith was last seen in similar conservative fatherly roles in Next Fall on Broadway and Kin off-Broadway at Playwrights horizons.  Ms. Richardson was last seen in in season 6 of Nip/Tuck and The Tudors.  In case didn't make the connection - she's the sister of the late Natasha Richardson and daughter of Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Richardson.  I must say that she bears a striking resemblance both visually and vocally to another fan favorite, Julie White.  Perhaps that was amplified by the role - one in which I could very easily picture Ms. White also.

This play, as the prior one, is an emotional roller-coaster dealing with issues such as marriage, fidelity, mental illness, and family.   Mr. Smith, again, plays an exceptional tightly-wound, politically-aspiring and conspiring, conservative, mid-western, husband.  Ms. Richardson does a magnificent job playing bat-shit-crazy (perhaps a perfect replacement for Edie Falco in House of Blue Leaves - another bat-shit-crazy role?).  Just one note to director David Auburn - shorten up that last scene - too long and unnecessarily repetitive. We were only there 100 minutes and didn't need to revisit all the issues and problems again before wrapping it up.  Other than that - I think I've written more than fifty words on this one but catching a performance of this one will leave you with little side effects other than having experienced an enjoyable evening of theatre at a relatively decent price.