Monday, March 23, 2015

Broadway Theater Review: Fish in the Dark with Larry David

Larry David and Rita Wilson/ Photo: Joan Marcus
Missing Seinfeld? Just Pull Up at Seat at Broadway's Cort Theatre
By Lauren Yarger
Every word that comes out of Larry David’s mouth in Broadway’s Fish in the Dark sounds just like something Jerry Seinfeld would say. Maybe that’s because everything Jerry said in the TV sitcom “Seinfeld” was kind of what its co-creators David or Seinfeld would say.

Fish in the Dark, also written by David, who makes his Broadway debut as its star alongside a bunch of other star power, feels like an episode from the TV show, so if it you have been missing “Seinfeld” since Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer faded into reruns when the show ended its highly popular run back in 1998, and you are a fan of David’s persona, further portrayed by himself in “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” you are in for a treat.

If you are a theater fan looking for something with a little more plot, character development and a cast of characters small enough for regional theaters to have a shot at producing this play, you might want more from Fish in the Dark ( the cast includes 18 actors who seem never to stop coming out form the wings). But then this show isn’t about producing a play that is going to win a Pulitzer. It is about bringing a popular writer to a new medium and making lots of money. In this, the show’s bigwig producers have succeeded, as tickets (selling as high as $155 a seat) have been flying out of the box office for the limited run, which plays through June 7.

Joining David on stage are some big star names: Rita Wilson (the film actress/producer and wife of Tom Hanks who made her Broadway debut in 2006 in Chicago); Rosie Perez, the always-delightful Jayne Houdyshell, stage veterans Ben Shenkman and Jerry Adler and more. Many, many, many more. The plot revolves around a family coming together around the funeral of its patriarch, Sidney Drexel (Adler).

Norman (David) and his brother, Arthur (Shenkman) fight over who their father has asked to care for their mother, Gloria (Houdyshell). There is no love lost between Gloria and Norman’s wife, Brenda (Wilson), so home sweet home is anything but when the mother-in-law moves in and the wife moves out.

Meanwhile, Norman’s maid, Fabiana (Perez) enters into a plot with Norman to convince Brenda that Fabiana’s son, Diego (Jake Cannavale) is a younger version of Sydney come to visit and requesting his widow provide funds to take care of Fabiana.

There’s more involving Arthur’s bombshell of a girlfriend, Michelle (Jenn Lyon) whom he brings on a date to the hospital where she gets groped by his dying father, projected death certificates ( Set Design by Todd Rosenthal), family promises, lots of arguing and a 1960’s feel enhanced by Ann Roth’s costumes and David Yazbek’s original  music.


Sound is a problem (design by Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen) with some of the dialogue very difficult to hear (maybe film stars David and Wilson are used to foley masters enhancing their miked dialogue and don’t realize they need to project more on stage. Director Anna D. Shapiro should have clued them in). But again, with box office records being set, David offers an entertaining, pretty, pretty, pretty nice Broadway debut. (and if you don’t get that three-part “pretty” reference, you might want to spend your $155 on a deeper show).

Fish in the Dark plays through June 7 at the Cort Theatre, 138 West 48th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday and Thursday at 7 pm; Wednesday at 2 and 8 pm; , Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Friday at 8 pm; Saturday at 2 pm, Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets $$49 - $155: (800) 432-7250; http://fishinthedark.com.

Note-- Ladies, don't count on being able to use this small bathroom.

Christians might also like to know:
 -- Language
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Sexual dialogue
-- Sexual situations

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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