THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR

****1/2

The art of skilled buffoonery is on full display at the raucous, hilarious delight, THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR, playing a limited 6 week run at New World Stages. Based on Gogol’s classic comedy of small town corruption, this modern translation by Jeffrey Hatcher is the perfect springboard for the comedia-like zany antics, laid out with clockwork precision by Director Jesse Berger. Along with Casting Director Stuart Howard, Berger assembles a cast of the Theater’s best clowns including Michael McGrath as the blowhard Mayor, Mary Testa (using the full range of her speaking voice) as his conniving wife, Arnie Burton in equally droll dual roles and Mary Lou Rosato, who is funny whether on her knees or standing.

But the greatest delight in a show full of riches is watching the inimitable Michael Urie giving a tornado of a comedic  performance that leaves you breathless and hysterical.  This tour-de-force portrayal is inspired lunacy, even when he is just trying to sit on a stool. Don’t miss it.

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OSLO

***

OSLO by J. T. Rogers is about The Oslo Accords and how they brought momentary peace in the Middle East. That’s a very heady subject to choose and with Bartlett Sher‘s adept direction, you have a lovely evening of intrigue and behind the scene machinations that is never boring or preachy. Unfortunately, it also never soars beyond a PBS docudrama with very few thrills and almost no depth. My jaw hit the ground when confronted with the overused “how can we be enemies, our daughters have the same first name” bit. Really? Even the usually wonderful Jennifer Ehle and Jefferson Mays come off blandly as the Norwegian couple who mastermind the Peace Talks. Michael Aronov gives a vigorous, eccentric performance as the one character with any real verve. Mr. Aronov deserved the Tony, OSLO did not.

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A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2

*****

A DOLL’S HOUSE, PART 2 is a riveting 90 minute look into the flaws of modern emotional connections, all while dressed in Victorian garb. The way that Ibsen showed us the foibles of turn-of-the-century sexual politics, Lucas Hnath gives us insight into the thrust and parry of current relationships. The costumes align the show with the original work, but the racy dialogue lets you know that they are talking about our lives now.

Laurie Metcalf (brilliant) comes blustering in like a contemporary Bella Abzug, until she is challenged and you see the exterior crack. Jayne Houdyshell (delicious) smiles like a crocodile as the resilient and resentful nurse left in charge of the kids that Nora abandoned. Condola Rashad (fascinating) is the self-assured mirror of Nora post door slamming. Chris Cooper (wonderful), is constantly shifting moods in his effort to rein in his emotions. Every single performance is delightfully theatrical and psychologically layered. And did I mention; it’s a REALLY FUNNY COMEDY! Where A DOll’S HOUSE (part 1) is a parable of female awakening, PART 2 shows us why it is so difficult for men and women to get along in today’s self-centered Society.

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