Thursday, September 20, 2007

100 Saints: Were Critics Singing Its Praises?

100 Saints: Were Critics Singing Its Praises?

Two evenings ago, budding playwright Kate Fodor's new play 100 Saints You Should Know opened. The reviews are mixed on the material, but generally positive on performances.

Calling it "a play you should know," Newsday's Linda Winer recommends the work: "Fodor invents rich characters who speak in their own peculiar rhythms and make observations that defy our expectations for this perilous subject matter....Ethan McSweeny has directed an exquisite cast to find the humor, absurdity and simple elegance of the search....The luminous Lois Smith continues her recent surge of priceless portrayals of seemingly ordinary women in such plays as The Trip to Bountiful....Any cliche of the impossibly precocious daughter is turned into something exhilarating, scary and new by the terrific young actress Zoe Kazan....Jeremy Shamos has a quiet, touching credibility as the priest whose conflicts go beyond the generality of headlines into particular heartbreak."

Observing that the show's characters "earn the attention they crave," Variety's Marilyn Stasio also offers praise: "Helmer Ethan McSweeny's sensitive reading of the material and an extremely classy cast make all the difference in a production of this episodic and none-too-original drama about the difficulties of grasping and holding onto one's beliefs in a modern world....Structurally, Fodor has written an articulate, if dramatically circular play, with the overlong and repetitive setup scenes in the first act methodically paying off in the second."

Taking note of "unresolved quality throughout," Ben Brantley of The New York Times is mostly kind: "This tale of everyday people in search of faith, directed by Ethan McSweeny and featuring the estimable Lois Smith, is thoughtful, well spoken, humbly aware of its limitations and respectful of its characters. It is, in other words, the kind of play you could take home to mother. Just don’t expect it to provide you with a transporting night of passion....But the story approaches these topical matters with a calm, open mind and a tidy, symmetrical structure that balances and parallels different points of view....Ms. Kazan enjoyably nails the hostile neediness of an adolescent girl who hates her mother as much as she loves her. And Ms. Smith...turns Colleen’s first scene into a mini master class in acting."

Labeling it "sensitive and engaging yet, in the end, uneven," Joe Dziemianowicz of New York's Daily News offers a mixed review: "The dialogue sometimes sounds more like a setup for punch lines than honest-to-God conversation....(The second act) tolls with such honesty and depth that one imagines Francis de Sales, the patron saint of authors, watching Fodor's back when she wrote it....The always excellent Lois Smith makes the most of Colleen....Zoe Kazan, memorable last year in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is uninhibited and brash and makes the wild-child Abby both believable and sympathetic."

Noting how 100 Saints You Should Know "has enough issues for a trio of Lifetime movies," New York Post's Frank Scheck offers a two-and-a-half star review: "Though the playwright's compassion is evident -- as is her ability to interweave their plights in emotionally resonant and sometimes humorous ways -- 100 Saints has a patented feel that recalls the many similarly sensitive off-Broadway dramas that preceded it....To her credit, Fodor doesn't provide any pat solutions to her characters' crises....It's hardly a surprise that Smith is wonderful, but there is also fine work by Moloney...Shamos....and the two younger performers.

As you'll recall from last week, I recommended the production with ***1/2 stars. Performances of 100 Saints You Should Know run through September 30.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for tickets.
Related Stories:
100 Saints: One Opening Night (September 18, 2007)
100 Saints You Should Know (The SOB Review) (September 14, 2007)

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Technorati blog directory Blog Directory & Search engine
Visitor Map

Powered by FeedBurner