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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Beckett


  Michael Carbonaro and Jonathan Hogan/Ph: Carol Rosegg

Marc Sherman's Sophistry, with its "he said, he said" twist on an allegation of professor-student rape, probably seemed pretty radical in its day (1993), even if it followed close on the heels of Mamet's Oleanna. Sherman's unvarnished portrait of bong-sucking college kids may also have seemed fresh and honest back then, but it's  no longer exactly headline material.

Structurally, the central conflict becomes almost tangential as Sherman shifts his focus from the accused - philosophy professor Whitey McCoy (versataile Jonathan Hogan, who convincingly enacts alternate "he did" and "he didn't" scenarios) - to focus on the scandal's aftereffects on Whitey's rather generic students.

Charlie Hewson is strapping as "Ex" (short for Xavier), the kind of all-around golden boy whose mainstream future seems assured, however avidly he may embrace slackerhood pro tem. After his straight-arrow girlfriend (Natalie Knepp) drops him, he still has copacetic sidekicks (Maximillian Osinski as the hulking jock, Ian Alda as the neurotic nerd) to hang with. We're forced into this company as well, for far too long. The guys'hopes and dreams for their semi-imaginary band fail to fascinate.

The original production coasted on the charisma of some up-and-coming young stars (e.g., Ethan Hawke, Calista Flockhart). The current cast could be equally promising, but the vehicle they're riding is decidedly yesterday's model.


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