With 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, Iâ€™d say pretty much everything about Michael Puzzoâ€™s new Spirits of Exit Eleven work for meâ€¦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 Iâ€™m not so sure it is needed. I liked getting to the heart of Michael Carlsenâ€™s seemingly one-dimensional-but-we-come-to-understand-quite-complex Butchyâ€™s relationship with Deborah Rayneâ€™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 Balsamâ€™s Agatha plays a stripper right on the edge of what youâ€™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, itâ€™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)Â that I felt never actually got off the ground.
Spirits of Exit Eleven runs at The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row (410 W. 42ndÂ Street, NYC)Â through February 2, 2013.