Photo by Don Kellogg

Friday, May 13, 2016

A Better Place

Despite several decent aspects of this show, I could not shake the feeling that I was mis-sold on what I was going to see and it was not overcome by what I actually saw.

The show is sold as a comedy about New York Real Estate - Love, Lust, and the crazy, life-is-always greener across the street aspect of the crazy real estate market in NYC.   I thought it might be a bit like Playwrights Horizons' Assistants or perhaps Michael Urie in Buyer & Cellar.  What I got instead was a rather repetitive, snooze of a show that simply plotted poor rent-controlled brownstone renters in Brooklyn situated across from a modern, all glass and steel high-rise across the street.  They watch the supposedly rich family across the street and envision their life.  The rich family across the street is anything but.  They are poor, loud, and common.  The husband gambles, the wife is a maid with high class dreams and the daughter is dumb as a box of rocks who gets excited when real estate brokers talk "dirty amenities" to her.

Casting seemed a hodge-podge of mix and match talents.  Judith Hawking (Mary Roberts) was a fairly decent over-bearing (and over-acting) mother.  Edward James Hyland (John Roberts) didn't seem like a carpenter but could have been a a gambler.  Rob Mitner (Les Coven) was a convincing over-the-top gay cater-waiter with a dash of drama queen but was paired with a much too old John Fitzbibbon (Sel Trevoe) as a professor in purportedly his rent-controlled shoe-box.  Jessica Digiovanni (Carol Roberts) had little to work with in the material except that she was dumb and a sexpot.  Michael Satow aptly worked the various broker boys, doorman, and waiter.  He was perhaps the best looking and most versatile actor (and by far the cutest) of all despite, again, his lack of any decent material to work with.

I might have been mildly amused if this show was 60 minutes but it was 30 minutes more of the repetitive "I wish we were them" and "I'm going to the track" and "Talk dirty to me" dialogue.  There were several scenes that were absolutely out of left field - Why did poor guy's father leave? and The restaurant scene and the hospital scene.  Waaaay too long, waaaay to repetitive.  Add in a lost briefcase of cash, a much too old professor for his young cater-waiter boyfriend, and horse racing and all you've got is a hot mess of a show with little entertainment value.

One bight spot in this production was the set - an innovative split-set depicting actors on both sides of the street.  The audience was also situated on two opposite sides of the theatre thus creating the peeping Tom effect for both the actors and the audience. Kudos David L. Arsenault.

Stick to the Sunday Times for your real estate fantasies.  This show won't fulfill any of them.