Spirits of Exit Eleven @ The Lion Theatre through 2/2/13

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Spirits of Exit ElevenWith knock-out performances from everyone in the 6 person cast, not a small amount of skilled pole dancing and a great set dressed by David Meyer as a locale close to my New Jersey born-and bred sensibilities, I’d say pretty much everything about Michael Puzzo’s new Spirits of Exit Eleven work for me…save the actual play itself.

Ok, let me be more specific. There is a supernatural element here that this near 2 hour one-act is built around but I’m not so sure it is needed. I liked getting to the heart of Michael Carlsen’s seemingly one-dimensional-but-we-come-to-understand-quite-complex Butchy’s relationship with Deborah Rayne’s linchpin-of-this-drama’s Marie Theresa; Stephen Payne plays the grisled drunk Tommy who lists across the stage imparting perfect pearls of what I feel are the real best little speeches of the play; Shane Patrick Kearns is a bundle of odd shuffles and inner recoil as Young Man who we find out lots about in his one big reveal and Nichole Balsam’s Agatha plays a stripper right on the edge of what you’d expect by giving lots of the unexpected in her performance.

Puzzo and director Frank Licato have a lot to work with here in this stellar cast, it’s just that I would have enjoyed a story more about these supremely interesting characters than one where we had to have a slight McGuffin (if that’s even really the technical term for it) that I felt never actually got off the ground.

Spirits of Exit Eleven runs at The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row (410 W. 42nd Street, NYC) through February 2, 2013.

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