Thursday, December 11, 2014

Palm Beach DramaWorks: My Old Lady (reviews)

MyOldLadyPalm Beach Dramaworks opened their production of Israel Horovitz’s My Old Lady on December 5, 2014.
A down-on-his-luck New Yorker inherits an apartment in Paris and must live with his tenants, an old lady and her rigid daughter. Their lives soon intertwine in unexpected and profound ways.
William Hayes directed a cast that featured Estelle Parsons, Angelica Page, and Tim Altmeyer.

Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
Horovitz’s 2002 play – recently directed by him as a film and since then tweaked for Dramaworks – is a cornucopia of delightful wordplay among articulate, literate characters and an insightful examination of human relationships careering clumsily through a thorny thicket toward a hopeful resolution.
But the pure pleasure comes from watching actors Estelle Parsons, Angelica Page and Tim Altmeyer working at the inestimable top of their game under the deft hand of director William Hayes. Theater pros may be awed by the skill of all four, but their naturalistic technique is so accomplished that most civilians will forget they are watching theater.
Many fine actors draw an outline of a character and just adorn that character’s exterior with two or three primal, easily-recognizable emotions. But these three members of the Actors Studio draw an outline and then fill it in like an oil painter, adding fine-grained brush strokes to create a being so specific, so individual, so idiosyncratic that to call these performances “believable” or “plausible” is not just insulting but missing the achievement. They are so convincing that it’s hard to believe that the actors are that much different in real life, as is the case of many film and television stars.
Parsons has gotten most of the early publicity since it’s a coup for Dramaworks to have attracted such a veteran and venerated star with five Tony nominations and a Best Supporting Oscar for Bonnie and Clyde. This vibrant quintessential American, who seems 20 years younger off-stage than her 87 years, disappears inside an aged creature whose face shakes, eyes squint and must collapse into an armchair.
Page’s beautiful but flinty Chloe has built multiple layers of protective battlements studded with knife-sharp spikes. Page never gives you any hint that Chloe might be capable or interested in lowering her defenses even a millimeter, although when she does (almost a dramaturgical necessity) she makes it completely credible.
But the marvel is Altmeyer’s Mathias, a creature of caustic and acerbic wit aimed initially at his own failings and only secondarily at his father. His Mathias never seems to be whining with self-pity, although he unpacks a lot of justifiably crippling baggage. He exudes a genial but anguished Everyman vibe like Jack Lemmon did in his late life films like Save The Tiger. But there is no sense of Altmeyer creating a type, only a fully-fleshed out human being.
Dramaworks has a rock reliable reputation for creative teams that produce evocative environments… Brian O’Keefe designing the character-revealing costumes, Ron Burns the delicate lighting and Richard Szczublewisk the sound, including helping Hayes select the atmospheric music for scene changes.
Especially notable is the scenic design by K. April Soroko... She has created a note-perfect world…
Rod Stafford Hagwood reviewed wrote for The Sun-Sentinel:
…the play by Israel Horovitz, takes everything from the slow setup and injects it with a whole new shading. Phrases, jokes, props and even the show's title have their trajectory changed in this way.  It's exhilarating to observe, especially in the hands of the nailed-it-down cast.
Keeping the balance between the humor and the drama is a delicate thing — an offshoot into politics almost tips the scales in the wrong direction — and watching Mathias stomp around drunk gets right up to the edge of being tiresome. But Chloe has the thankless job of keeping the play grounded, and Page handles it with down-low finesse.
The story takes its time, and the payoff is worth it and more satisfying for the wait.
Jack Gardner wrote for The Edge Miami:
Academy Award winning actress Estelle Parsons took on the role of Mathilde. Parsons, who is a little young for the role at only age 87, is one of the treasures of the American theater... Parsons… hobbles around on a cane in a manner that is very realistic. There is no break in characterization during the play. Her performance was flawless.
The role of Mathais was played by Tim Altmeyer. He gave a fine portrayal of the angry, disturbed and hurt middle-aged man unsure of where to go in life... Altmeyer swings from manic to subdued to highly emotional with little apparent effort and a naturalness that brings the character to life.
Angelica Page took on the role of Chloe…the acid wit of the show …her performance was completely natural …The character makes a journey from hate to love during the course of the play and Page adroitly brings this to life.

Palm Beach Dramaworks presents their production of My Old Lady through January 4, 2014., 2014.

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