Frank Langella. Is there any other actor who can portray Gregor Antonescu, the vile financier, a man with no conscience, a man who is as charming as can be on the surface but hiding the manipulative viper just beneath as well as Frank Langella in the 1963 Terence Rattigan revival of MAN AND BOY at The Roundabout American Airlines Theatre? I think not.
As he strides around the Greenwich Village basement apartment of his long ignored son Basil Anthony (a fine Adam Driver) where he is seeking sanctuary from the prying press and orchestrating a meeting with the President of a major company – Mark Herries (Zach Grenier) with whom he is seeking a merger and Herries’ accountant David Beeston (Brian Hutchison) who has discovered vast discrepancies halting the merger and sending Antonescu’s stock plummeting, Mr. Langella is all smiles and charm in his double breasted, impeccably tailored suit.
Meticulously clothed. Focused. Concentrating on getting exactly what he wants. Even if it means baiting the homosexual Herries with his own son to get the deal done and keep him form being arrested and ruined. Nice guy.
He’s hateful, but how wonderful to watch Mr. Langella portraying him under the eye for detail director Maria Aitken. A glance. A pause. A flick of the cuff. So confident. So sure of himself as he side tracks one and all. All make Langella’s performance worthy of our attention and attendance even if the play is a bit creaky.
MAN AND BOY takes place in 1934 but resonates with today’s Bernie Madoff scandal and the relationship and suicide of his son and what if anything the people surrounding Madoff – especially his wife – knew of his duplicitous dealings.
In Act II we meet Gregor Antonescu’s wife, the Countess Antonescu – his ex secretary who wears expensive jewelry and enjoys the good life but falls apart when faced with disaster. She is played with brittle charm by Francesca Faridany and if I didn’t know better I would have sworn it was Jane Seymour.
His right hand man/body guard Sven Johnson (Michael Siberry) is always ready to light the cigarette, pour the drink or offer the gun when warrants are issued for Gregor’s arrest even though Gregor has the nasty habit of looking right through him or ignoring him completely. One wonders why people put up with such behavior. I guess the pay is good.
Also we wonder why Basil after being ignored for so long – his father had even declared him dead – shows such affection for the man. Even his girlfriend Carol Penn (Virginia Kull) is seduced by his utterly charming ways. As we all are.
Does he escape or kill himself? Guess… www.Roundabouttheatre.org
Photo: Joan Marcus
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