REVIEW: ‘Marie and Bruce’ struggle through their day | New York Theater | NewJerseyNewsroom.com -- Your State. Your News.

newjerseynewsroom.com

Saturday
Oct 25th
  • Login
  • Create an account
    Registration
    *
    *
    *
    *
    *
    REGISTER_REQUIRED
  • Search
  • Local Business Deals

REVIEW: ‘Marie and Bruce’ struggle through their day

Marie1040511_optMarisa Tomei stars as a vituperative wife in The New Group’s revival of Wallace Shawn’s play

BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW

The New Group revives “Marie and Bruce” with an able cast headed by Marisa Tomei and a handsome production directed by Scott Elliott, but Wallace Shawn’s 1978 play appears strangely lifeless on Theatre Row, where the show opened on Tuesday.

While Shawn’s modern-day study in neo-Nazi leanings, “Aunt Dan and Lemon,” which The New Group revived in 2003, remains a moral shocker, his “Marie and Bruce” is a merely an ugly comedy about a Manhattan couple that raises few sensations at all aside from a feeling of relief when its 100 minutes run out.

Perhaps that’s what the playwright wants viewers to feel.

A play in three scenes and two monologues, the story observes the title duo’s apparently miserable marriage during the course of a day. A pre-show interlude in the couple’s bedroom sees Marie (Tomei) nervously roaming around and smoking while Bruce (Frank Whaley) restlessly snores. A few times Marie maliciously blows cigarette fumes in the direction of her sleeping husband.

Once he awakes, Marie rains a ceaseless torrent of abusive remarks upon mild-mannered Bruce, who remains oddly oblivious to her vituperative attitude. Later they attend an increasingly drunken dinner party where Bruce’s gregarious social skills appear to better advantage than Marie’s alienated ways.

Marie2040511_optStill later, they eat dessert in a café where Marie viciously informs Bruce that he has spoiled her entire life and how she intends to leave him. Bruce blandly ignores Marie’s diatribes and they return home, probably to begin their routine all over again on the next day.

Tomei rages away believably and Whaley sloughs off her abuse nonchalantly, but Shawn’s look at an oddly interdependent couple fails to make much of an impression. The presumably satirical sequence at the dinner party as the self-absorbed guests engage in various banal conversations similarly falls flat.

For the party sequence peopled by seven other actors including Tina Benko and Adam Trese, the director and designer Derek McLane seat the characters at a round table that slowly revolves. This stylized rendering of the scene only serves to drain human energy from an already inert play.

“Marie and Bruce” continues through May 7 at Theatre Row, 410 W. 42nd St., New York. Call (212) 239-6200 or visit www.thenewgroup.com.

ALSO BY MICHAEL SOMMERS

REVIEW: Laurie Metcalf visits ‘The Other Place’

REVIEW: Daniel Radcliffe learns ‘How to Succeed’ on Broadway

REVIEW: ‘South Park’ makers open ‘The Book of Mormon’

REVIEW: John Leguizamo stars as ‘Ghetto Klown’

REVIEW ‘Hello Again’ sings and sins again intimately

REVIEW: ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ musical dishes out relentless entertainment

REVIEW: ‘Where’s Charley?’ dances upon a Frank Loesser score

REVIEW: ‘Arcadia’ speaks indistinctly about past lives and loves

REVIEW: ‘Cactus Flower’ fails to bloom

REVIEW: ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’ glows with magic

REVIEW: ‘That Championship Season’ looks back upon former glory days

REVIEW: Frances McDormand counts among ‘Good People’

REVIEW: Richard Thomas stars in ‘Timon of Athens’

REVIEW: ‘Hallway Trilogy’ leads to disappointing places

REVIEW: Geoffrey Rush delivers a Russian fruitcake

REVIEW: ‘A Perfect Future' yields sour grapes

REVIEW: ‘Compulsion' fictionalizes Meyer Levin's life

JOIN US AT NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM:

IN OUR NEWSROOM

ON FACEBOOK

ON TWITTER

 

Add your comment

Your name:
Subject:
Comment:

Follow/join us

Twitter: njnewsroom Linked In Group: 2483509