Photo by Don Kellogg

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Velocity of Autumn

The weather outside may be delightful, but folks, Autumn has no velocity.  It's a magnificent story with a perfectly cast leading lady that should be told in 35 minutes - tops.  The Velocity of Autumn tries hard but in essence is a one-trick-pony that belabors its point over and over.

Estelle Persons (Alexandra) is superb in her portrayal of an old and, some would say, crazy women who has barricaded herself in her apartment with a not so insignificant stock of Molotov cocktails (albeit film developing fluid for a darkroom filling the bottles instead).  She doesn't want to leave.  She wants to live out the rest of her (declining) life in the apartment - alone.  Her estranged son, Chris (Stephen Spinella) is called in by his siblings to talk some sense into his mother.  Zingers explode left and right.  Topics are covered, bombs are dropped between mother and son until the clock runs out at 90 minutes.  The trouble here is that this seems to me to be a 35 minute off-Broadway skit that was dragged out to 90 minutes as a Broadway ticket price would never tolerate less time in the seats at these prices.

Over and over the same topic is re-hashed.  "You get me", she says.  "I left because I didn't fit in", he says.  Antidotes are traded about life, growing old, weak bones, not fitting in, and so the laments go on and on... over and over.  The other two siblings (seemingly more intense, logical, and less witty) who are apparently pressuring their mother to leave only appear as a voice on the other side of the phone to Chris who has been sent in to defuse the situation.

After 90 minutes - I'll leave it up to you, but my guess is that this play likely at its best when it's limited to a punchy 35 minute short.  The impact would likely be greater - and the prices certainly more affordable off-Broadway.