Here's an instance where I feel the critics had it all wrong. I've found Neil LaBute to be one of the most provoking contemporary playwrights--yes, I know, that may constitute faint praise. His new play, The Break of Noon, opened earlier this week and we saw it last night Off-Broadway at the Lucille Lortel (nee the Theatre de Lys) on Christopher St., West Village. The Times lead critic liked the beginning and most of the cast but found the whole enterprise disappointing. Yesterday's Wall Street Journal more or less trashed the whole thing.
The well-known David Duchovny is the lead, a man who somehow has survived the worst office massacre (37 dead) and now has intimations of being a spiritual guru to the world. Supported by the marvelous Amanda Peet, as well as Tracy Chimo and John Earl Jelks, Duchovny is on stage throughout the play--a series of blackout scenes--and manages, in my view, to stay atop the flow of great LaBute dialogue.
Last year we saw LaBute's excellent reasons to be pretty on Broadway at the Lyceum. That was also excellent and had its run shortened -- in my view -- only because it was nominated but captured no Tony awards and had no known names in its four roles. It recently was produced by one of the Washington theatre companies, Signature, I think.
LaBute has been accused of misogynist attitudes--I haven't yet seen his best-known work, the movie In the Company of Men--but I find he's far better generally at portraying women than a more successful playwright to whom he is often compared and whom I usually find compelling: David Mamet. His dialogue is crisp and often funny, helping him to push past the exteriors into these characters.