Oscar E Moore

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The Glass House – Off Off B’way Breakthrough

May 17th, 2010 by Oscar E Moore

Let’s cut to the chase right here and now.  “The Glass House” a new, immensely satisfying one act play written by June Finfer; brilliantly directed by Evan Bergman and produced by the Resonance Ensemble at Theatre Row’s Clurman Theatre is theatre at its best.

Not just Off Off Broadway theatre, but THEATRE at its best.  Race right down or go online (www.ticketcentral.com ) and get your $18.00 ticket (not a misprint) and experience smart writing, intelligent direction and four riveting performances that tell the story of two of the most important and influential architects – the cigar chomping, champagne guzzling womanizer Mies van der Rohe (Harris Yulin) and the gay, raspy voiced conniving Philip Johnson (David Bishins) and their odd relationship which resulted in each of them building a glass house.  Mies for his client Mrs. Farnswoth (Janet Zarish) and Mr. Johnson for himself.

As exhilarating as it must have been for the headstrong Dr. Edith Farnsworth (who commissioned Mies van der Rohe to build a simple weekend house on her nine acres of property in Chicago after meeting first with Mr. Johnson whom she thought was a critic and not an architect) to see the model for her glass house, it is even more so for us to see the progress of her dreams fulfilled on stage from 1945 through 1990.  Dreams that turned into a nightmare.

Playwright June Finfer has done her research and done it well.  Adding insight and inspiration to an already interesting tale full of jealousy, ambition, lies and love.

Four enormous egos are involved.  Each extremely strong character has their own wants that is not necessarily the same wants as the characters that they become intertwined with.  And they all become intertwined.  The three already mentioned with the fourth being the sculptress/lover of Mies, Lora Marx (Gina Nagy Burns).

Details I will not divulge.  That would spoil everything.  “The Glass House” is simply not to be missed. 

Janet Zarish is spellbinding as she realizes her dream house and gets far more than she bargained for.  Harris Yulin is commanding and oozes Germanic charisma.  Gina Burns shows strength and courage.  And David Bishins does a real star turn.  He’s remarkable.  This is a performance that will surely be remembered for its charming and detailed insidiousness.

There are three other actors (Joie Bauer, James Patterson, Chris Skeries) very much a part of the show who portray construction workers, waiters and office workers.  They say not a word but help with the choreographed scene changes in costume and in character.  One of the many clever directorial decisions chosen.

The use of a soft mellow jazz ensemble (Nick Moore) only adds to the mood and theatricality of the piece as does the set (Jo Winiarski) and costumes (Valerie Marcus Ramshur).  “The Glass House” is a very special production and I urge you to see it

Through June 5th.   Running in repertory with Ibsen’s The Master Builder.



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