Thursday, May 31, 2012

Quick Hit Theater Review: The Common Pursuit

The Common Pursuit
By Simon Gray
Directed by Moises Kaufman
Roundabout Theatre Company

What is it about?
A group of friends at Cambridge idealistically begins a literary magazine called The Common Pursuit edited by Stuart Thorne (Josh Cooke). Contributing to the periodical are self-loathing poet Humphry Taylor (Tim McGeever), chain-smoking, coughing Nick Finchling (Lucas Near-Verbrugghe), Peter Whetworth (Kieran Campion), known to the gang as Captain Marvel for his numerous female conquests and Martin Musgrove Jacob Fishel), who handles the business side of things when he isn't lusting after Stuart's girlfriend, Marigold Watson (Kristen Bush). Jump nine years later and the magazine is in trouble. So is Stuart's and Marigold's relationship -- she's pregnant, but economics say she will have to abort the child. Some of the friends offer possible solutions to save The Common Pursuit including using their influence to get an arts grant, but Stuart is adamant about keeping it free of influence. Besides, Martin's offer to go into a business partnership with Stuart seems motivated more by his desire to be a part of Marigold's life rather than by a passion to continue publishing literary material. The plot jumps forward again and then back in time to follow the plight of these friends over 20 years who discover that life doesn't always turn out the way you plan.

What are the Highlights?
Cooke, Fishel and McGeever turn in some solid performances and bounce well off of each other at the highly different personalities. Derek McLane's set quickly adapts with a few changes to create the various locations.

What are the Lowlights?
The story tends on the boring side. It's hard to bond with any of the rather unlikable characters except for Martin, and well, there's only so far you can go in bonding with a guy whose best friend is a cat. Stuart really lost me when he seemed to think that being broke and printing the highest quality poetry was more important than Marigold's obvious desire to have the baby or the life of his child despite clear options to allow him to continue printing and support his family. Near-Verbrugghe's smoker's cough isn't believable.

What Else Do I Need to Know?
The limited engagement plays at the Laura Pels Theatre, 111 East 46th Street, NYC through July 29. For tickets and performance information:

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- Abortion
-- Lord's name taken in vain

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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

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for 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.


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


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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