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The Balcony Scene

Autor: Will Calhoun

Infos zum Theaterstück:
Datum der Aufführung: 1991
Stadt: Manhattan, New York City
Theater: Circle Repertory Company
Infos zu diesem Bericht:
Quelle: Website der New York Times
Autorin: Frank Rich
Veröffentlicht: 01.07.1991

Kritik von Frank Rich zum Stück:
When a play's dramatic climax involves one man's brave efforts to defy the elements by renting a videotape during a virulent Chicago thunderstorm, you had better believe that it is nap time. "The Balcony Scene," a new play by Wil Calhoun, is 80 minutes of nearly uninterrupted slumber that wastes the energies of two fine actors, Cynthia Nixon and Jonathan Hogan, and leaves an audience questioning the judgment of the Circle Repertory Company, a home for such distinguished writers as Craig Lucas and Lanford Wilson. What was this theater thinking of? It's one thing for a nonprofit company to aim high and fail, but "The Balcony Scene" aspires to be "Same Time, Next Year" and crash lands at roughly the esthetic altitude of "Three's Company."

The story of two new neighbors who meet cute on adjacent balconies in a high-rise apartment building and inexorably end up in each other's arms, "The Balcony Scene" is "Two for the Seesaw" without the seesaw, or, arguably, the microwavable version of the Circle Rep's "Burn This." Its romantic partners are Karen (Ms. Nixon), a perky young airhead in advertising sales who is getting over a bad-news beau (a briefly seen William Fichter), and Alvin (Mr. Hogan), a freelance writer and rabid Chicago Cubs fan who has not left his apartment in seven months, even for Wrigley Field.

Alvin is prone to soliloquies about the decline and fall of civility in supermarkets and other chaotic outposts of the urban jungle -- he's a gentile stand-in for the kvetchers in Herb Gardner plays like "I'm Not Rappaport" and "Thieves" -- and it is Karen's duty to teach him that life is worth living if you "roll with it" and learn how to "defend yourself." This she does, and not a moment too soon. By the time Alvin at last does screw up his courage to go outside and rent that videotape, the audience is grateful mainly because it will soon be able to do the same and perhaps yet salvage an evening otherwise bereft of entertainment.

Mr. Calhoun fails to provide his chosen genre's rock-bottom necessities: eroticism and laughs. Instead he offers predictable vignettes larded with unmotivated confessional monologues and other implausibilities. To believe various developments in this play, one has to buy the notions that Karen would invite a strange man into her home and that she would not lock her apartment door (apparently unprotected by a doorman downstairs) even as she receives threatening phone calls. One also has to find it credible that a nonfiction writer like Alvin can not only pursue a career without leaving his desk but also that he can "pay the bills" with a series of articles on Reconstruction in the post-Civil War South! (Presumably this series is being published by either Cosmopolitan or Playboy, for it pays so well that Alvin changes into a new shirt roughly every 10 minutes.) Even Mr. Calhoun's smallest character details don't add up: Karen, a self-described Woody Allen fanatic, has never seen "Annie Hall."

Scant conviction is added by the director, Michael Warren Powell, who drowns the script in wistful new-age music instead of striking so much as a spark of spontaneity. His production is distinguished only by Dennis Parichy's lighting and by the whimsically deployed skyline that redeems Kevin Joseph Roach's busy realistic set. There is no sexual charge between the two leads, and Ms. Nixon smiles and babbles so insistently to shore up a male playwright's sentimental idea of a dizzy girl-woman that she gives the first irritating performance of her exemplary career. Mr. Hogan's old-shoe charm is sturdy enough, though he often looks studied, whether asked to show off Alvin's sports fanaticism by wearing a baseball cap indoors or his intellectual bent by reading "The Old Man and the Sea" on his terrace.

At all times the point of this exercise remains a mystery. Perhaps agoraphobes are to be encouraged by Alvin's miraculous ability to overcome his malady without leaving home or consulting a therapist. Perhaps singles are to find new hope in the ease with which Mr. Calhoun's yuppies find true love right next door. Whatever the intention, "The Balcony Scene" brings a lesser Circle Rep season to a dead end and, for those of us who care, looks like another bad omen in what is shaping up to be an even more disastrous year for the Cubs.

Eine weitere Kritik zu diesem Theaterstück:
Autor: David Richards
Veröffentlichung: 21.07.1991

"The Balcony Scene" is the saga of how they fall in love. First, however, she has to coax him off his balcony and over to her place for dinner (that alone takes about 50 minutes). Next, they have to deal with Paul, Karen's jealous ex-lover (William Fichtner), who shows up unexpectedly. Finally, Alvin must be persuaded that he's capable of going to the video store on hi own. In the end, however, everything turns out fine. Nobody jumps or is pushed off either balcony.

Weitere Infos:
Directed by: Michael Warren Powell
Production stage manager: Fred Reinglas
Presented by: Circle

Repertory Company At 99 Seventh Avenue South, at Fourth Street, Manhattan.

Paul . . . William Fichtner
Karen . . . Cynthia Nixon
Alvin . . . Jonathan Hogan