Posted October 12, 2012 at 1:56 pm
By Diane Snyder, Time Out NY
Expect Pinteresque, or comparable terms, to pepper reviews of Things of This World, by burgeoning Italian playwright Marco Calvani. It’s the first part of AdA (Author directing Author), a double bill from Calvani and onetime enfant terrible Neil LaBute, in which each directs a play about family by the other. Calvani’s thorny, elliptical work introduces an exciting new voice with a reverence for the 20th-century masters.
The program quotes Marx on the divisive impact of money, and that’s what colors the interactions between the unnamed characters whose verbal battles set off land mines of painful longing and emotion. The two protagonists of Things are played with gusto by Estelle Parsons as a woman driven by wealth and power, and Craig Bierko as her failure of an adult son. LaBute’s offering, Lovely Head, begins with a classy but tart-tongued prostitute (Gia Crovatin) returning to a nervous client (Larry Pine) who overpays for her services but then just wants to talk. After she berates him in bouts of verbal S&M, the full extent of their relationship comes to the fore; it climaxes in a closing tableau that’s alternately comforting and discomfiting.
As directors, Calvani and LaBute are finely attuned to each other’s verbal rhythms and their characters’ buried animosities. Even if the latter piece is too explicit in its revelations, the playwrights’ simpatico sensibilities elicits stirring performances from their quartet of actors. If only all foreign-policy relations could be as congenial.