Did you hear the one about the two Drexel brothers (Norman – Larry David and Arthur – Ben Shenkman) arguing in the hospital over who is going to honor dad’s final wish to take care of mom (Gloria – Jayne Houdyshell) as dad (Sidney – Jerry Adler) lies gasping for air on his deathbed after squeezing the boob of Arthur’s date Michelle (Jenn Lyon) who is also a notary?
Neither brother wants mom. Especially Norman – especially after the three a.m. call that awakened him about dad’s condition and who couldn’t get back to sleep so he gave himself the famous five finger exercise. Neither does his wife (Rita Wilson) – who gets lost in the shuffle.
Thus begins FISH IN THE DARK – written and starring Larry David. His first play on Broadway and his Broadway debut. Flip a coin as to which is the winner.
Mr. David is a self- proclaimed jerk who has zero belief in himself and is fond of chewing gum and being crass and outspoken. A co-creator of Seinfeld has made him a very wealthy jerk. Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm has increased his fan base by the busload. Fans that show up to see this production at the Cort Theatre to welcome him as he steps from his limo, watch him cavort onstage and then stand and cheer for him as if he is the Messiah of Broadway. Which in a way he is. FISH has a 14 million dollar advance.
Producer Scott Rudin and his team of producers didn’t smell fish when they opted to produce this elaborate production (five sets and 18 actors) they smelled money. And money it is they are making by the bucket load. Hopefully Larry David stays in good health and can manage the eight shows a week schedule. He has no understudy. He gets sick. No show.
His fans what to see Him. Live and in person. On stage with his hands either in his pockets or feigning mock disbelief or flaying his long arms about as if he has gotten a Boy Scout Merit Badge as a semaphore expert.
So it doesn’t matter that the play is not very good or well-structured and populated with a dysfunctional extended family that are from the old school of stock characters. They include Mary Louise Burke, Lewis J. Stadlen and Joel Rooks who do their “Borscht Circuit” best.
Some lines and situations are worthy of the chuckles they induce. But a plot twist involving mom and the ghost of her husband – played by an excellent Jake Cannavale – the son of the housekeeper Fabiana (Rosie Perez) becomes tasteless and vulgar just to set up the denouement. But that’s Norman/Larry – rude and able to say what no one else would dare.
Todd Rosenthal’s five sets are large and it takes time to change. And so I believe director Anna D. Shapiro along with the design team came up with a “Death Certificate” computerized show curtain which becomes an eyesore. The “Swingle Singers” type music (David Yazbek) is just odd. Like those interludes between the short scenes of a sit-com. Which FISH IN THE DARK most resembles. A sixties sex farce is a close second. Potty humor comes in third.
It’s a matter of taste. If you love Larry David you’ll love Larry David with his distinctive brand of humor.
High-brow is isn’t. Raking in the dough it is. Some seats are reportedly going for $425.00. Not so bad for a jerk. Major balls in play here.
Photos: Joan Marcus Visit www.TalkEntertainment.com
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