Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for February 2010
BY Brandon Voss
February 23 2010 5:00 PM ET
Karen Finley, herself the first lady of performance art, revives the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in her latest one-woman show, The Jackie Look, on uncomfortable display through March 27 at the Laurie Beechman Theatre. No, Finley’s not drenching the icon’s naked body with chocolate here, but by the end of her rambling treatise (which she reads from a script on a lectern) on fame, fashion, and America’s fascination with Michelle Obama’s bare arms, one almost wishes that she would. Backed by a slipshod slide show of Camelot pictures peppered with other poignant images like La Pietà, Finley does end with a bang — what, too soon? — by screaming “you know!” at the audience, suggesting that Caroline Kennedy’s notorious speech patterns were a desperate cry for the acknowledgment of her family’s tragic history.
Lucinda Coxon’s Happy Now? — a charming but rather picayune British play making its New York premiere with a Primary Stages production at 59E59 Theatres through March 21 — asks that universal question by looking at the life of Kitty, a harried wife, mother, and cancer research exec tempted by adultery and tormented by her estranged parents. “What’s the use of a gay best friend?” Kitty asks of confidant Carl, a bearish 40-something law firm partner who’s sleeping with a 20-something lifeguard but ultimately concludes he’s “too old a dog for new tricks.” For starters, this gay bestie, played with comforting truth by Brian Keane, allows Kitty and her friends to envy, disparage, and “perv” on his sex life at dinner parties. It’s no wonder that the mindless enjoyment of Will & Grace factors so prominently into the plot.