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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Atlantic Theater Company

By Matt Windman


When was the last time you felt truly shocked by the content of a show? You know, truly and genuinely shook up by the action. Think of Medea slaying her children, Lear carrying Cordelia in his arms or any moment from Assassins. But there might not be a more frustrating experience at the theater than watching a show that is designed solely to shock you.

Meet Scarcity, one of no less than three Off-Broadway dramas that has just opened, that explore American domestic life, joining The Dining Room and 100 Saints You Should Know. But whereas The Dining Room is about the upper class and 100 Saints is about the middle class, Scarcity takes on the lower class of rural America.

And while Dining Room and 100 Saints are intelligent scene studies, Scarcity indulges in far too much profanity to be effective. It is a particularly bad form of kitchen sink realism drama. For instead of focusing on character, the show moves far further into melodrama and mediocrity.

The characters of Lucy Thurber's Scarcity, all seemingly stereotypical, include the exhausted mom who works at the local supermarket (played by Kristen Johnston of Third Rock from the Sun), the deadbeat, alcoholic father the clairvoyant little girl the mathematically gifted 16-year-old boy and the goodie-two-shoes teacher.

Thurber attempts to separate Scarcity by blatantly shocking us: the little girl has the worst potty-mouth in the world, the father is clearly attracted to his 11-year-old daughter, the teacher is clearly attracted to her teenage student, and mom and dad are prone to having sex in front of the kids.

But is the work actually scary? Hardly. Cheap is a better word. Just as the show's 16-year-old makes a goal of leaving his family and going to a fancy prep school, you too should stay far away from the typically terrific Atlantic Theater Company so long as Scarcity is playing.



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