By Patrick Christiano
October 11, 2012: Opening night of the world premier of HERESY, a witty parody by A. R. Gurney presented by The Flea Theater brought out the prolific playwright himself to check out the provocative staging directed by Jim Simpson, who has directed seven of Gurney plays for The Flea. The strongly stylized one act evening of theater is a timely look at the American Dream set in the near future, but the strong production puts an amusing touch on some dark subjects. The evening begins a little slow, but picks up momentum as the wonderful cast puts the pedal to the metal bringing out all the humor in the satirical drama.
Parents, Mary and Joseph (Annette O’Toole and Steve Mellor), have come to Homeland Security to beg the Decider, Pontius (Reg E. Cathey), to release their son Chris from prison. The biblical parallels are immediately apparent in Gurney’s funny take on justice. Chris has been imprisoned for his stand against organized religion and can be kept there for the rest of his life.
Everyone in the cast gets to voice their opinion on just what should be done with Chris when Pontius decides "to kick the can" and allow those assembled to decide Chris’ destiny. Weighing in on Pontius’ final determination are his cocktail swilling wife Phyllis played by Kathy Najimy, who will be replaced by Karen Ziemba on October 19 when Kathy leaves to shoot a TV show, as well as sexy woman Lena (Ariel Woodiwiss), who claims to have had sex with Chris despite the fact his mother says he is gay, along with a disloyal friend Pedro (Danny Rivera). Mark (Tommy Crawford) the intake officer all the while records everyone’s comment on his computer. The jokes on American materialism run somewhat thin but the cast and director keep the 85 minute evening from ever becoming dull with a humorus look at some topical issues.
The design team includes Kate Foster (sets), Brian Aldous (lights), and Claudia Brown (costumes).
HERESY runs through November 4, Tuesday – Saturday at 7pm, Saturday and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $45 Tuesday – Thursday and Sunday Matinees, $50 on Friday and Saturday nights, and $10 Saturday Matinees. Tuesdays are Pay What You Can, at the door only. The Flea is located at 41 White Street between Broadway and Church, three blocks south of Canal, close to the A/C/E, N/R/Q/W, 6, J/M/Z and 1 subway lines. Tickets are available by calling 212-352-3101 or online at www.theflea.org.
Photography Opening Night Barry Gordin
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