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It’s no surprise that playwrights naturally gravitate to the spectacular in preference to the commonplace. It takes a special kind of writer to find compelling beauty in the ordinary, and Horton Foote did it better than anyone. Witness Michael Wilson’s revival of “The Roads to Home,” Foote’s 1982 triptych of tightly intertwined one-act plays whose subject is the melancholy that pierces the souls of women who can’t go home again. On the surface, scarcely anything happens in “The Roads to Home,” a conversation piece whose gossipy characters fritter away their days chatting about what seems to be nothing in particular. But Mr. Wilson, Foote’s protégé, knows that the talk in his plays is far from aimless, and this richly involving Primary Stages revival serves as a reminder that you needn’t set off firecrackers to seize an audience’s attention….
It’s impossible to say enough good things about Mr. Wilson’s production, which makes the best possible use of the arm’s-length intimacy afforded by the Cherry Lane Theatre’s 179-seat mainstage auditorium. So do the members of his cast, all of whom are wholly conversant with Foote’s idiom…
The Manhattan Theatre Club has found a recipe for success: Produce pretentiously titled British two-handers about odd couples who meet cute. Nick Payne’s “Constellations,” which went over big last season, filled the bill to overflowing, and so does “Heisenberg,” the latest play from Simon Stephens, who scored even bigger with his stage version of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.” Evidently he’s now out to prove that he can write a play that, unlike its predecessor, doesn’t rely on scenic bells and whistles. He can, but that doesn’t mean that “Heisenberg” is any good. It is, in fact, blush-makingly trite, a portrait of a 42-year-old blabbermouth (Mary-Louise Parker) who stalks a never-married 75-year-old butcher (Denis Arndt) and lures him into the sack, thereby freeing him of his incapacitating inhibitions and allowing him to lead the more abundant emotional life of his dreams….
The result is, not to put too fine a point on it, a blatant exercise in masculine wish fulfillment…
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To read my review of The Roads to Home, go here.
To read my review of Heisenberg, go here.
The members of the cast of The Roads to Home talk about the play: