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Edward Albee may have been one of America’s greatest playwrights, but he couldn’t get a decent review between 1975, when he won a Pulitzer Prize for “Seascape,” and 1994, when the off-Broadway premiere of “Three Tall Women” brought him a third Pulitzer and restored him to critical favor after a string of flops. That “Three Tall Women” subsequently failed to move to Broadway remains an impenetrable mystery, but it’s there now at last, staged with no-nonsense clarity by Joe Mantello and starring Glenda Jackson, Laurie Metcalf and Alison Pill….
“Three Tall Women” is a conversation piece set in the bedroom of a rich, senile woman (Ms. Jackson) who is looked after by a long-suffering paid companion of a certain age (Ms. Metcalf) and is being visited by a young lawyer who takes care of her estate (Ms. Pill). In the first part of the play, Ms. Jackson’s character gabbles randomly, incessantly and revealingly about her long and eventful life. Then she has a stroke, at which point the three actors suddenly metamorphose without authorial explanation into herself when young, middle-aged and very old….
Ms. Jackson, who is returning to Broadway after a 30-year hiatus, gives an acrid, wised-up performance that is as pointed as you’d expect from so celebrated an actor. It’s no better, though, than than that of Ms. Metcalf, who’s as memorable here as she was in “Lady Bird,” while Ms. Pill acquits herself well as their foil….
Kenneth Lonergan is far from prolific, but everything he writes, whether for stage or screen, is worth seeing. “Lobby Hero,” which was first performed off Broadway in 2001 but is only just receiving its Broadway premiere, is his most provocative play to date, a study of what it means—and what it costs—to tell the truth in a corrupt world. In it, two security guards (Michael Cera and Brian Tyree Henry) and two cops, one badly bent (Chris Evans) and the other young and naïve (Bel Powley), come together in the lobby of a New York apartment house to talk for two and a half hours about a murder in which they are variously and complicatedly involved….
Mr. Cera and Mr. Evans are well known from TV and the movies, which accounts for the presence of shrieking fans in and outside the theater. The true star of the show, however, is Mr. Henry, who is calm, solid and touchingly troubled as the guard whose dilemma (he knows that his brother may have done something unforgivably terrible) sets “Lobby Hero” in motion….
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To read my complete review of Three Tall Women, go here.
To read my complete review of Lobby Hero, go here.
The cast of Lobby Hero talks about the play: