Oscar E Moore

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PICTURES FROM HOME – nothing to write home about

February 17th, 2023 by Oscar E Moore

Never leave dirty dishes in the sink.  Always make your bed.  And if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t!  But certain rules are made to be broken.  Right?  So here goes.

PICTURES FROM HOME is not a play.  It is a project.  Not even a good project.  Based on a book by Larry Sultan.  A very successful book of photos of its author’s parents: Irving and Jean Sultan with interviews and comments and, of course, the numerous photos and home movie clips regarding their relationship taken and recorded over an eight year period in the 80’s.

Yes, EIGHT YEARS!  He visited them on and off weekends away from his wife and child to gather info and unearth the subtext of their dismal lives.  Which doesn’t come across clearly in this production.  Turn the photo over and what to you see?  Nothing.  And unfortunately that is what you come away with at STUDIO 54.

A much too large space for an intimate three character play.  I mean, project.  With three talented and surefire box office stars:  Nathan Lane, Danny Burstein and Zoe Wanamaker and first-rate director Bartlett Sher.  It does not work.  Not well constructed nor well written with lackluster direction.  The villain appears to be adapter/writer Sharr White.

Without intermission PICTURES FROM HOME seems like a three hour, soap opera, sitcom saga.  Lots of over the top screaming from Nathan.  Lots of surprising “fuck this and fuck that.”  An altogether unlikable portrayal.  In fact, it was almost impossible to get his grating voice out of my mind afterwards.  A disappointing one note performance.

Much is made of Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.  Irv (Nathan) was an on the road salesman but the character on stage does not seem to have followed what preacher Carnegie preached.

From son Larry (Danny) – lots of smiling and pensive ponderings.  And lots of busybody work by mama Zoe and scampering around the large true to life replicated period lime green setting (Michael Yeargan) as they, each in turn, talk to us, the audience, as if we were best friends and neighbors allowing our minds to wander thither and yon as the tired saga slowly unfolds.  It is just plain boring.

I kept imagining first Alan King with his cigar and standup Ed Sullivan act.  Then Jerry Stiller as dad and Ben Stiller as his son.  That would have been interesting.

My best advice is to stay home and revisit your own family photo history.

At STUDIO 54.  1 hour 45 minutes.  No intermission.


PHOTO:  Julieta Cervantes

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