outh to Mouth
Playwright Kevin Elyot’s latest “is a melancholy little memory play” about Frank, a gay writer living with AIDS, said Michael Kuchwara in the Associated Press. “This morose, middle-aged man never has had much luck with life or love, and desperation drives him to do foolish things.” Frank has long been owed a debt of gratitude by his best friend, Laura, for saving her son, Philip, from drowning. When he confesses an indiscretion with Philip during a party, it threatens to destroy years of affection. Elyot’s characters are constantly weighing friendship versus self-interest, and the latter usually triumphs, “despite a strong aftertaste of guilt.”
This is “a wry, mournful study of how easily a friendship can be destroyed,” said Marilyn Stasio in Variety. Elyot is no Pinter, but he “uses a clean line to tell a concise story.” A strong ensemble of actors employs “a snappy comedic delivery to keep the raw emotions at bay.” David Cale gives a deceptively unassuming performance as Frank. Lisa Emery is luminous as Laura, a woman ultimately “rendered inarticulate by grief.” And Christopher Abbott is promising as the young Philip. But their strong work is wasted by director Mark Brokaw, who undermines Elyot’s irony-laden play by approaching it “as if every stilted moment were momentous, every arch line of dialogue profound.”
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