Monday, May 25, 2015

The Way We Get By

At this point, it's getting hard to reach conclusions about Neil LaBute as a playwright. Last night I caught his latest, The Way We Get By, at Second Stage in New York, a theatre, by the way, that is classified as Off-Broadway (it's based on audience capacity, not location) but is located at 43rd St. and Eighth Ave. Thomas Sadokis and Amanda Seyfried were the players and the play held my attention for its uninterrupted 80-minute run, but the mixed review in The Times was on the mark.

LaBute springs a surprise halfway through which maintains your attention, but the problem is that you need some device at that point to do that. The last play of his that I really enjoyed was Reasons to Be Pretty,which also was his last to transfer to Broadway and was nominated for a Tony. I began to consider what that play had that this one lacked. What I came up with was how I reacted to the dialogue. In Reasons, as in some other memorable LaBute efforts, the conversations between usually two, but sometimes more, characters rang true and real. He also seemed to capture in Reasons the way ordinary people working in a plant speak.

You don't know what the two in last night's play do for a living. Perhaps that's another reason why I found myself less interested in them. Miss Seyfried is very attractive and did a nice job with Beth but Mr. Sadokis seemed more adrift in a character with some quirks that I felt were distracting. Right from the start, the morning-after conversations between two people who saw each other at a wedding reception and with more than a few drinks under their belts, ended up in bed together that night, appeared stilted and pointless.

There were good parts and points to the play as well. And both the mid-play surprise (at what might have been the pre-intermission point had there been one) and the ending were satisfying. It was what went on in between those high moments that left me wanting something better.

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