Review Roundup: ANNAPURNA, with Megan Mullally & Nick Offerman
The New Group presents the New York premiere of Annapurna by Sharr White, directed by Bart DeLorenzo and featuring Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, in a limited Off-Broadway engagement through June 1.
Twenty years ago, Emma (Megan Mullally) walked out on her husband, cowboy-poet Ulysses (Nick Offerman), in the middle of the night. Now hearing he's in dire straits, she tracks him down in the wilds of Colorado in a grungy trailer, working on his magnum opus, hooked to an oxygen tank, and cooking in the buff. Their reunion, charged by rage and compassion, brings back the worst and best of their former bond. The New Group presents Annapurna, written by Sharr White and directed by Bart DeLorenzo, as the third show in the company's 2013-2014 season.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Charles Isherwood, New York Times: The production, first seen at the Evidence Room Theater in Los Angeles and here presented by the New Group, has been efficiently directed by Bart DeLorenzo. (Mr. DeLorenzo is the artistic director of the Evidence Room.) The title refers both to the mountain in the Himalayas and to the epic poem Ulysses has been writing in the years since his marriage ended. It's symbolic, of course, as he hints to Emma when their cantankerous give-and-take begins to soften. A famous climber who wrote a book about his experience nearly lost toes and fingers when, on the descent, he made the seemingly small mistake of dropping his gloves. Thus, in an instant, can a promising life unravel.
Jessica Shaw, Entertainment Weekly: The 90 minutes of banter - sometimes heartbreaking, always sharp - revolves around why Emma left Ulysses in the middle of the night two decades earlier with their son, now 25. The build-up is so strong to those final moments when Ulysses' actions are finally revealed that you expect a Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? climax. Sharr White's script doesn't pack the same emotional gut punch, but that's no reason to dismiss this fine work. White's dialogue pops, especially when the extraordinary Offerman adroitly hops from desperate to lovestruck to angry to devastated. If that's not enough Offerman for you, be sure to sit in the left side of the audience. You'll never think of him as cheeky in quite the same way again. B+
Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press: Thomas A. Walsh's grimy, decrepit trailer interior is so disgusting and successfully claustrophobic that you can imagine the fleas hopping onto the audience. Looming above is a majestic snow-covered mountain, a reminder of the heights of success from which Ulysses has fallen. Adding to the realism, DeLorenzo has Mullally bustling about cleaning filthy surfaces, throwing out decayed food, and actually tidying up the mess. If only life could be tidied up this neatly, too.