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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at Playwrights Horizons, NY

By Matt Windman

  Zoe Kazan and Jeremy Shamos/PH: Joan Marcus

It's called Playwrights Horizons for a reason. Amongst all the major Off-Broadway not-for-profits (not to mention the ones that also extend to Broadway), Playwrights Horizons is the only one that is dedicated entirely to new works by American playwrights, most of which are not established names.

Over the years, numerous plays pass through Playwrights Horizons that offer a fairly respectable evening of theater, often with good acting and production values. But the plays themselves often feel more like character studies than totally complete pieces of theater. But when Playwrights occasionally strikes gold (I Am My Own Wife, Grey Gardens, James Joyce's The Dead), the results are unmistakably rewarding.

Kate Fodor's 100 Saints You Should Know, alas, falls into that bottomless pit of credible, well-made but ultimately forgettable drama. It centers around the emotional isolation of five very varied individuals: a pretty female janitor, her unruly teenage daughter, a confused teenage male, a closeted gay priest, and his overprotective mother.

Its excellent cast includes Janel Moloney of TV's West Wing, Jeremy Shamos , who was hilarious last year in Gutenberg! The Musical! and the incomparable Lois Smith , whose stirring performance in Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful two years ago deserved a Tony Award.

Under Ethan McSweeney's direction, a few of the moments are truly incredible. Take, for instance, the opening scene, where the priest, played by Shamos, accidentally walks in on the cleaning woman, played by Moloney, as she is cleaning the toilets. In spite of the absolutely awkward nature of the situation, you can see how these two lonely souls crave emotional connection.

It is not till much later in the show, when a dangerous situation has occurred, when the man and woman finally touch. It occurs in a perfectly plutonic way, but that single physical touch - between a single mother dealing with an out-of-control teenage girl and a recently deposed, embarrassed priest - is theater at its most cathartic.

Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St, 212-279-4200, $65


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