Seat Filler: NYC Theater Guide for November 2010
BY Brandon Voss
November 16 2010 5:15 PM ET
Celebrated for his exquisitely stripped-down revivals of Company and Sweeney Todd, John Doyle directs the stunning Second Stage Theatre revival of Arthur Kopit’s Wings, which soars through November 21 in a sterile swirl of mirrors and white vertical blinds. Jan Maxwell stars as Emily, a former 1920s “wing walker” who must learn to rely on her high-flying spirit when she’s grounded by a debilitating stroke. Even when the audience is thrust inside her racing mind, Emily often speaks complete nonsense and struggles to make sense out of the simplest of words. At 53, Maxwell, who was nominated for not one but two Tonys last season, seems a bit young for the role — Constance Cummings was almost 70 when she played Emily on Broadway in 1979 — but in the hands of lesser actresses, the play’s stagnancy and balderdash would be excruciating to endure, even for a mere 70 minutes.
Edgy modern takes on Greek tragedies are tricky, but out playwright Isaac Oliver served up a treat with Electra in a One-Piece, which ended November 14 at the Wild Project. This clever retelling of the House of Atreus myth starred the mesmerizing Erika Rolfsrud as Clyt, who murders her husband and shacks up with the sexy pool boy. Urged by a hilarious Greek chorus of Zac Efron, Jude Law, and Justin Timberlake as talking wall posters, Clyt’s teen daughter Elle posts a video of the crime on YouTube so her brother Ore will come home from Iraq to avenge his dad’s death. (Are you getting that these names are short for Clytemnestra, Electra, and Orestes?) A gay stunt to get discharged leads to a passionate love affair between Ore and army buddy Lad — talented cuties Chris Bannow and Ian McWethy — that, like everything else in this biting satire, ends badly in the best way possible.