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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Flea Theater

By Sandy MacDonald

  Marisa Tomei and Brian Hutchinson/Photo: Richard Termine

Playwright Will Eno - author of the quirky monologue Thomas Pain ( based on nothing) - likes to alight on a notion and noodle around: he's incurably writerly, which works out well in his latest outing, OH, THE HUMANITY and other exclamations. It helps that in these five short plays, he's got more than a single feckless Gen-Xer to focus on. Here he homes right in on an assortment of characters and digs deep, even if, on the surface, they may sound like stereotypes: a beaten-down coach, for instance, or a pair of video-dating hopefuls.

It also helps that he has two superb performers to flesh out theses brief scenarios, which in toto run scarcely an hour. Marisa Tomei dims her natural warmth to a scarily chilly glow as a judgmental lone soul with some serious intimacy issues, and later aces a speech delivered by a sincere if ditsy airline PR rep charged with comforting bereaved families after a crash. The laughter Tomei elicits is guilty but irrepressible, and by never reaching for it, she achieves a measure of pathos as well.

That would seem to be the desired effect of The Bully Composition, a meditation on an anonymous wartime photo, the only segment that doesn't work - although perhaps it's just a case of mortality fatigue, that being the underlying motif in all five playlets.

Tomei's talent is a given, going in. The real revelation of the program is her onstage partner Brian Hutchinson, who plays an array of slack-jawed Everymen, each stupefied as to why general good-guyness seems to be getting him nowhere.


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