Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Theater Review: Zero Hour with Jim Brochu

Jim Brochu as Zero Mostel. Photo credit: Stan Barouh
A Stage Icon Comes to Life
By Lauren Yarger
Seeing Zero Mostel perform in Fiddler on the Roof was one of those rare theatrical experiences where you weren’t watching a performance of a man named Tevye – you were watching Tevye, so real was the actor’s portrayal. The torch now is passed to writer Jim Brochu, directed by Piper Laurie, whose portrayal of Mostel in Zero Hour is so real, so polished, so riveting, that you’d swear Mostel himself were sitting on the stage at DR2 Theatre telling you about his life.

And what a life it is. In the guise of speaking to an unseen reporter from The New York Times, Mostel reluctantly takes a break from his first passion in his painting studio (scenic design by Josh Iocovelli) to reluctantly discuss the ups and downs of his far-ranging and until now, not well known (at least not to me), career.

Working on a painting while talking with the reporter in 1977, Mostel shares details of his first failed marriage and how his parents disowned him when he remarries Kate, a Catholic. Kate encourages him to pursue a career on stage and he finds success as a comedian. The gigs stop coming, though, when Mostel in blacklisted during the McCarthy Senate hearings to investigate a number of artists alleged to have ties with the Communist Party.

It was an “intellectual final solution,” Mostel tells us, saying that Jewish minds getting their message out were the ones targeted. Brochu communicates the full range of emotions that Mostel feels at being questioned, the loss of a close friend who commits suicide over the ordeal and at being forced to work again with "Loose Lips," director Jerry Robbins, who named names during the questioning.

The actor finally starts to get work again when he almost loses a leg when he is crushed by a bus. He survives numerous surgeries, becomes good friends with the bus driver (something good came out of it, he tells us) and overcomes the guilt of his parents’ rejection to go on to fame in shows like A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Rhinoceros and Fiddler. Eventually invited to dine with the president, he realizes he’s made it from blacklist to white house.

It’s absolutely fascinating. Brochu’s performance is so full of depth that you feel like you've just spent a couple of hours with the stage legend.

Zero Hour plays at DR2 Theatre, 103 E. 15th St., NYC. For ticket information, visit http://www.zerohourshow.com/

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Sexual dialogue

1 comment:

Retta Blaney said...

We certainly agree on this one, Lauren!


Create A Buzz About Your Book
Custom Search
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 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. Her play concept, "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Intensive and other 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. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

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

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


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.

All Posts on this Blog