Oscar E Moore

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NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE by John Guare – a talent to amuse and confuse

March 27th, 2019 by Oscar E Moore

A superb cast spearheaded by a befuddled and dead pan John Larroquette who only leaves the stage briefly during a brief intermission or to change his pants at the Mitzi E. Newhouse in this wild romp through the memory of his character Edmund Gowery – a venture capitalist who once wrote a hit play “Internal Structure of Stars” – the one and only play he ever wrote awaits you – if you are adventurous.

If you have ever had a long ago memory triggered by an event in the present and try to go back in time, in thought and perhaps in denial you may find NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE intriguing, amusing and sometimes confusing as Edmund relives the summer of 1975 in Nantucket where an amateur production of said play has involved most of the other characters in said play at one point or another.  Very six degrees of separation-ish.

In fact, one might call this production “a fine kettle of fish” quite appropriately as his memory is a fish stew of sorts that begins with a puzzle.  A crossword puzzle where the answer to 57 across is our hero.

Poe (Adam Chanler-Berat) and his sister Lilac (Grace Rex) have forgotten what happened that summer of ’75 and need Edmund Gowery to reboot their memory and so we all go on this skewered ride through the past when they were 9 and 7.

They are both bizarrely brilliant.  You’d win a bet that they are actually related.  Looking very much like cousins from the Addams family tree when they were 9 and 7…

…In the house that Edmund bought from his royalties of said play at the suggestion of his agent/lawyer Gilbert (Jordan Gelber) whose wife Antonia is fooling around with Edmund on the side.  I think.  He is also involved with Alice.  Tina Benko portrays both flames.

The house once belonged to poet Jorge Luis Borges (German Jaramillo) who weaves in and out as does his accented voice.  His daughter Elsie (Clea Alsip) mother of Poe and Lilac sold the house to Edmund without his knowing that a mail order kiddie porn outfit was using it as their headquarters.  That brings a stern police woman Aubrey Coffin (an excellent Stacey Sargeant – she also plays Edmund’s secretary and has some choice vocal cameos) ready to arrest him.  She played the grandma with TB in said production and demonstrates.

We also meet McPhee (Will Swenson) a wild Vietnam vet who carries around – in a cooler – a large lobster.  After all it is Nantucket.  He is in love with Elsie despite her being married to a shrink – Dr. Harbinger (Douglas Sills) who portrays two other roles including a dead Walt Disney on ice.  I think.

JAWS is featured throughout.  As is Hitchcock.  SUSPICION.  Roman Polanski.  And a conga line.  This I am sure of.

Unfortunately Act II goes down stream into more bizarre waters.

NANTUCKET SLEIGH RIDE has been given an A-1 production that is ingeniously staged by Jerry Zaks on an equally impressive set by David Gallo.  Are we in an office with three tiers of doors (30) or a morgue?

As the panels slide open the various characters are revealed and the set opens up in Edmund’s memory in swift succession.  You might not know exactly what’s going on at all times but you will relish the terrific performances of one and all.

Costumes by Emily Rebholz define characters down to their socks.  Lighting by Howell Binkley is spot on.  An hour and fifty minutes worth of absurd farce.  One intermission.


Photos:  T. Charles Erickson

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