BY Brandon Voss
December 16 2010 5:00 PM ET
In John Guare’s exhausting epic A Free Man of Color, which plays Lincoln Center Theater’s Vivian Beaumont Theater through January 9, Angels in America’s Jeffrey Wright stars as Jacques Cornet, a flamboyant Don Juan in 1802 New Orleans who refuses to accept that white wigs and ostentatious garb have gone out of style. Race aside, his neighbors shun him in fear that their wives aren’t safe around his libido and large penis — which is said, among other euphemisms, to resemble a baby’s arm holding an apple — so he fakes a gunshot injury and pretends to be castrated. There’s a lot more historical stuff going on — and more than 40 characters! — but when I wasn’t bored, I felt overwhelmed and confused. Still, as directed by George C. Wolfe and gorgeously costumed by Ann Hould-Ward, it’s a feast for the eyes. If I were deaf or tripping, I would’ve loved it.
Colin Quinn left a bitter taste in my mouth with his awkwardly unfunny stint as a Weekend Update anchor on Saturday Night Life in the ’90s. But the 51-year-old comedian has finally earned my respect and admiration with Colin Quinn: Long Story Short, which has extended through February 5 at the Helen Hayes Theatre. Rife with smart ethnic jokes, Epcot Centric generalizations, and the kind of amusing observational humor for which the show’s director, Jerry Seinfeld, is famous, Quinn’s surprisingly clever stand-up act takes on the rise and fall of the world’s greatest civilizations — from Ancient Romans to Jersey Shore guidos — in 75 tight minutes. In one of the show’s most effective sequences, Quinn personifies the world’s current feuding nations as drunk patrons in a bar fight. If teachers had succeeded in making world history this entertaining, I might’ve learned something.
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