Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Too Much Sun

 Fresh off her last off-Broadway turned Broadway run, The Lyons, Linda Lavin joins up once again with playwright Nicky Silver once again at the Vineyard Theatre for Too Much Sun, a full length family drama filled with humor and wit.

Linda Lavin (Audry Langham), a once successful, aging actress who is fed up with her diminished roles walks off stage of her seemingly silly engagement as Medea in Chicago and retreats to her daughter's beach house to regroup.  What unfolds is a family drama tangled up with the neighbors in more ways than one.  Mr. Silver's pen is sharp and witty, but his plot is unnecessarily complicated for the story being told and feels a bit like he wrapped it all up in the last 5 minutes.  It's not only the sun that's too much in this production.

All these rabbit holes aside, the show was extremely well acted and directed.  Jennifer Westfeldt (Kitty) and Ken Barnett (Dennis) are Lavin's daughter and son-in-law who are dragged unwittingly into her lair.  Richard Bekins (Winston) and devilishly handsome Matt Dickson (Lucas) are their beach house neighbors also both separately drawn into the family drama and have a drama of their own going on.  Audry's agent's assistant, Matt Dellapina (Gil), was hysterically entertaining and neurotic but involvement overall seemed contrived - especially at the end.

As I write this, I wonder if the character of Lucas even needed to have a storyline with Dennis or if the neighbors storyline needed to be so developed.  I guess we needed parts of it.  The play may have been shorter and punchier if it focused solely on Ms. Lavin's unfortunate yet comical situation.  But alas, perhaps that may have seemed too much like a simple 30 minute sit-com if it were.

From a construction perspective, the play had a prologue which seemed to work, but then there was an Entr'acte after the intermission that seemed a bit awkward.  All told it was a bit choppy overall, but the purposes were served.  A little lighting glitch was dealt with professionally and expeditiously and frankly was a reminder that theatre is live and shit happens.

As with all she seems to do, Ms. Lavin shines and her comedic timing is impeccable, but alas, I doubt this one will transfer to Broadway like the last one did.  In any case, she's one of those people who could read me the phone book and I'm positive I'd be mesmerized.