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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Peter J. Sharp Theatre


  Victor Villar-Hauser and Euan Morton in Leaves of Glass/PH: Origin Theatre Co

Stories of inter-sibling strife are as old as human history: there's a good reason that the fabulists of the Old Testament worked a fratricide into the sage of the first family. In Leaves of Glass, British playwrigh/artist Philip Ridley limns a rivalry between brothers that's pretty well rigged from the start. Steven (handsome Victor Villar-Hauser) is the strong one-tellingly, in a fable of suppressed familial dysfunction, he runs a graffiti-removal service. Barry (Euan Morton), five years younger, is a basket case: in fact, he opens the play fetally curled on the floor, splotched with vomit. An aspiring artist, he can't even hack a blue-collar job in Steven's employ. Once unfurled, he's too busy reeling off bipolar apercus, which Steven absorbs with a near-saintly patience.

It doesn't take much to knock Steven off his lofty orbit, though: the mere announcement from his wife (wonderfully acerbic Xanthe Elbrick) that she's pregnant. "When?" says Steven. "Now," she snaps.

If only all the dialogue were so succinct. Ridley has a penchant for repeating pet phrases- Steven's business motto, for instance, or the way that the brothers' mother (Alexa Kelly) insists on calling the depression that ultimately killed their father "this fluey bug thing." Yes, the point is that she's someone who steadfastly refuses to confront life's unpleasanter truths - but no one is that dim. It doesn't help, either, that Kelly approaches the part like a wind-up toy. You can see the gears grinding: Now I'll show this emotion, now this.

It's a shame, because the other three players, directed by Ludovica Villar Hauser (sister of Victor), are outstanding, and when we're not observing Kelly's Act-By-Numbers approach, Ridley's story of repressed memories - though a bit trite and borderline bathetic - can be quite engrossing. Its spell is especially irresistible whenever Morton ( an actor/singer best known for playing Boy George in Taboo) hovers between a thousand-yard stare of dissociative angst and the micro-tremors of a soul crumbling to dust.


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