Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Band's Visit

This Atlantic show was supposed to be a Hal Prince directed musical.  Schedules conflicted and alas, we have a David Cromer directed, Itmar Moses penned, adaptation of the Eran Kolirin screenplay.   I have to say, I expected a lot more from Mr. Moses based on his previous works.  However, I must temper that by saying that this is not Mr. Moses' original work - it is an adaptation of what I imagine is a fairly vacuous and empty movie itself.  Think indie flick.    Perhaps the big screen brings something magical to this story - I would not know, as I have not seen it.  But I can tell you that the stage does nothing for this rather banal, slow, and fairly pointless and somewhat empty show. Music and Lyrics by David Yazbek are at times sublime and at others baffling but overall, his melody and tone hits it right given the off-beat material.

My thought immediately following the end of the show was "what a waste of a role for both Tony Shalhoub and even more so for John Cariani.  "Monk" (Shalhoub) as he is known by his adoring TV fans has a rather reserved leading part with little fat to chew on.  Mr. Cariani just rolled off a hit Broadway musical, Something Rotten and while actors must exercise their range, the part he plays here is dumbfoundingly bizare and odd.  The plot centers around an Egyptian ceremonial orchestra (in fully military style uniforms) visiting Israel for a concert but get diverted to the wrong town in the middle of nowhere (because the same town exists spelled with a "P" and a "V" (foreign accents, mishap, oops) and have to spend the night with the locals.  Not much ensues.

Kudos for casting many ethnic actors and providing a platform for mildly exploring the topic of inter-ethnic conflict and tension - but only mildly as this is really not the focus of the play.  I will say, however, that a feeling of uncomfortability permeated the air throughout the evening all the way to the very (predictable) theatrical ending.

Perhaps Mr. Prince would have made different theatrical decisions?  We'll never know.  The stage was as vacuous and empty as the material and most of the performances save a few.  It's a good thing a delicious pan of Paella was awaiting me after the show to cure my hunger.