I was going to skip reviewing GOD LOOKED AWAY, the dreadful new show about the last Opening Night in Tennessee Williams’ career, but since there is fresh talk of transferring it to Broadway, I must speak up.
PLEASE DO NOT MOVE THIS SHOW.
It is painfully dull and frivolous. It is written by Dotson Rader, one of Tennessee’s real-life lovers, whose greatest writing achievement to date is in Parade Magazine. And that is the level of verbal finesse you get in this weak, soggy play. Scenes have little shape and the dialogue just wanders. A crucial moment is thrown away in a phone call. Too much time is spent on a rivalry between two “himbos.” You never get to see the acid wit or lyric soul or creative brilliance of Tennessee Williams, just his lasciviousness.
Al Pacino wrestles with a southern accent and loses. He doesn’t even try to get Tennessee’s mannerisms. The usually exquisite Judith Light doesn’t enter till the second Act and then she is woefully underused. Please, let’s not waste any more time with this dreck.
It is obvious that Neil LaBute is not Jewish. You can tell because he writes the most wonderfully despicable characters that even when self-aware, they never feel guilt about their bad behavior. The fascinating and spellbinding new show ALL THE WAYS TO SAY I LOVE YOU could have easily followed suit with his REASONS TO BE PRETTY and REASONS TO BE HAPPY and been titled REASONS TO LIE TO YOURSELF.
Once again Judith Light does her chameleon disappearing act into a character. Wearing no makeup and a sad little wig, she embodies a midwest high school English and Drama teacher who has an affair with one of her students. And I am not giving away anything by telling you this. This story has so much more to divulge.
As with most of Mr. LaBute’s cannon, there is a central theme to this play: what is the cost of a lie? and like most of his plays, he is going to tell you the answer in a vicious, devastating tale that leaves you breathless. This is a 60 minute, one woman tour-de-force and every single minute is enthralling and unnerving.