THEATRE LOVER MOM: Poor Behavior: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
The New York premiere of Poor Behavior, a new comedy by Theresa Rebeck, is playing a limited engagement through September 7th at Primary Stages at The Duke on 42nd Street.
Evan Cabnet directs the company featuring Heidi Armbruster (Maureen), Brian Avers (Ian) , Jeff Biehl (Peter) and Katie Kreisler (Ella).
Bringing to mind plays like Dinner with Friends and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, two married couples come together in what was intended to be a relaxing weekend at the country home (charming set by Lauren Helpern) of Ella and Peter. The play opens with a heated discussion over many bottles of wine between instigator Irishman Ian and Ella, setting the tone for a debate about what is good and bad behavior and the question Rebeck poses: What if you made a mistake, years ago, that has destroyed your life, and will continue to destroy your life? Don’t you owe it to some higher notion of ‘goodness’ to fight for your life?
Why Ella and Peter didn’t ask Ian and Maureen to leave after is cause for question, but then there wouldn’t be a two Act play, which doesn’t truly impact until Act II when Ian delivers a lengthy monologue….a long-winded, somewhat late attempt to ring home the message. Watching these couples lives tangle and untangle though entertaining grows tireseome, despite a touch of intrigue in Act II.
There are some clever lines and laughs (thanks to gourmet muffins and more), and the characters (though not fully fleshed out) hold our interest, helped largely by the strong performances. Armbruster, particularly, is fetching as the ‘bonkers” Maureen, and Avers rise to the challenge of a smug, yet sexy Irishman.
With Poor Behavior, Theresa Rebeck has become the first female playwright to have had 15 new works staged in New York….no small feat.
Tags: mom theatre blogger, off broadway theatre, primary stages, seminar, smash, teresa rebeck