Well-written, well-played and ultimately, well, annoying, Adam Bock’s A Life has gotten great reviews from almost everyone. We are the dessenting few.
There is a banality in our daily lives that we want to hide behind long narratives of what we’ve done, and how we feel. We desperately want the ordinary to be extraordinary.
In A Life, Adam Bock’s new play at Playwrights Horizons through November 27th, the characters find it hard to connect.
Nate (David Hyde Pierce) delivers a long and (at least in my lights) tedious monologue, centering on relationships and the astrological that charts them. It’s a tribute to his talent and timing that he can hold our attention for as long as he does.
Bock engages the audience, although perhaps engage is too strong a word, involves the audience, first in
Nate’s soliloquy and then when his sister Lori (Lynne McCullough) thanks us all for coming. It is an irony that she is grateful that Nate had so many friends in his life, since the theme in A Life seems to be his isolation.
Of all the friends Nate narrates about, we meet only one in A Life. Nate shares a coffee and man-gazing with his best friend is Curtis (Brad Heberlee) at a shop near his apartment.
Laura Jellinek’s active set pivots from one scene to another with deliberate drama. Anne Kaufman’s direction cannot keep the pace on this slow moving 85-minutes fast enough to keep the drama from sagging under its own weight.
To learn more about A Life, and for tickets, please visit the PH website.
Memory is a trippy thing. As you get older, remembering long ago events is so much easier than recalling what you did yesterday.
In Marjorie Prime, the future-forward play by Jordan Harrison at Playwrights Horizons through January 24th, recollections of the past serve to improve lives in the present.
Memories make us who we are, but they are also a slippy slope that does not always conform to reality. When we begin to forget ourselves, it may be especially unsettling for those near and dear to us.
Marjorie (Lois Smith), an aging and ill widow, shares her home with a computer (Noah Bean) who channels her late husband, Walter. His companionship allows her to live more or less independently in her house.
Walter is a Prime, an embodiment who uses Artificial Intelligence to assist with Marjorie’s cwell-being. He has been programmed to absorb Marjorie’s history. Walter Prime retells stories of their courtship.
Marjorie is fortunate that her son-in-law Jon (Stephen Root) is so attentive and invested in fleshing out Walter Prime’s memory bank. Her relationship with her daughter Tess (Lisa Emery) is a bit more prickly.
Marjorie and Tess’s father were happy, although he was not her only suitor. Marjorie, in her prime, was a vivacious violinist and a bit of a flirt.
Anne Kaufman elegantly directs the impeccable cast through the twists in Marjorie Prime.
Laura Jellinek’s scenery evokes the lightness of California with a touch of futuristic brightness.
Scene changes in this compact one-act drama are effectively made behind blanket of light (lighting design is by Ben Stanton), for the most part, giving the play a cinematic quality in transition.