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REVIEW: ‘The Talls’ comes up short

Talls1081511_optSecond Stage Theatre produces an underdeveloped character study

BY MICHAEL SOMMERS
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
OFF BROADWAY REVIEW

The last weeks of summer are ticking away, we’re all bracing up to deal with 9/11 ten years later and, believe me, everybody has far better things to do than see “The Talls,” so let’s keep this review brief.

The latest premiere in Second Stage Theatre’s summer “Uptown” series at its bijou McGinn/Cazale space on the Upper West Side, “The Talls” is an underdeveloped new play that will never be seen again unless its newcomer author, Anna Kerrigan, creates superior stuff in the future and someday rates retrospectives.

Since 2002, the “Uptown” series has produced early works by the burgeoning likes of Adam Bock, Ravij Joseph and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, so who knows, perhaps Kerrigan holds promise as a playwright. But that’s impossible to tell from “The Talls,” which opened on Monday.

Talls2081511_optSet in a modest living room in California in 1970, “The Talls” concerns the six-member Clarke family, who are very Catholic, conventional and physically tall. Into their home comes Russell, an ambitious young shrimp who is set to manage Mr. Clarke’s campaign to run for city comptroller.

Due to a sudden offstage tragedy involving a nun – Mrs. Clarke’s bosom chum since girlhood – Russell is delegated to chaperone the four adolescent kids while their parents are at the hospital. The college-bound eldest, Isabelle, finds herself attracted to the unprepossessing Russell and they have sex.

That’s pretty much it for story, except that one gets the impression that the playwright intends to study Isabelle’s character as the caregiver for her family. She tries to keep her wrangling siblings in line. She tries to comfort her grieving mother whose relationship with the nun apparently was more than sisterly.



 

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