Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for February 2010
BY Brandon Voss
February 23 2010 5:00 PM ET
Alexi Kaye Campbell and Joe Mantello, the gay first-time playwright and director, respectively, of The Pride, can be proud of their ethereal effort, even if its starry luster is superficial and unsatisfying. MCC’s American premiere of this London hit runs through March 28 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre with Brits Hugh Dancy and Ben Whishaw as two pairs of lovers named Oliver and Philip in 1958 and 2008. In ’58, Philip’s a self-hating husband who wants “an easier life” but rapes Oliver with a Brokeback spit-take. In ’08, Oliver is a self-hating park-cruiser who pushes away boyfriend Philip with his promiscuity. In 2010, it’s hard to care. Brideshead Revisited’s Whishaw (whose own sexuality depends on which rag you read) owns the play, but Andrea Riseborough wows as the ’58 wife/’08 gal pal and Adam James nails a number of supporting roles, including a Nazi role-play escort.
A 50-year gap also divides the action in Clybourne Park, Bruce Norris’s accessibly insightful new play about property values, which is parked at Playwrights Horizons through March 21. Inspired by Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun, Clybourne Park is set in the same fictional Chicago house inhabited by the Younger family of the 1959 masterpiece. In the first act, Norris imagines the troubled white family that immediately preceded the Youngers. In the second, which takes place in 2009, we meet another white family moving into the regentrified hood — there’s a Whole Foods! — and learn how little has changed. One minor character, played by the ginger Brendan Griffin, is revealed to be gay in the second act, but only for the sake of his showing brief, mild offense to a joke about prison rape that, for the record, is actually pretty funny.