Atlantic Theater Company (Neil Pepe, Artistic Director; Jeffory Lawson, Managing Director) presents Robert Beitzel,Halley Feiffer, Susan Pourfar and Tony Award nominee Deborah Rush in the world premiere production of Academy Award winner Ethan Coen's first full length play WOMEN OR NOTHING, staged by acclaimed director David Cromer.
WOMEN OR NOTHING is a play about two women so desperate to have a child that one of them will even sleep with a man. Who the man is, what he thinks is going on, what the women think about what he thinks, and what the mother of one of the women reveals about her own colorful past-it all defies belief. Why then does it all make sense?
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Jonathan Mandell, BroadwayWorld: But Women or Nothing is not just another silly outdated sex comedy. Coen has a sharp ear for dialogue, and what seems like a genuine interest in exploring some thought-provoking themes -- about how much one can control one's world, how much one can change oneself; there is hidden in the shtick an argument of nature over nurture. He also offers a redeeming, mischievous plot twist.
Charles Isherwood, New York Times
: But throughout this artifice-bound play, the dialogue often has the overly sculptured quality of a writer straining to be witty. And while Mr. Cromer is adept at aping the contemporary Noël Coward
-ish air that Mr. Coen seems to be evoking, neither he nor his actors can really disguise that, beneath the banter, "Women or Nothing" is founded on a notion that cannot credibly sustain even a light comedy. The play is flawed from the, er, conception.
Jennifer Farrar, Associated Press
: Deborah Rush
is masterful as Laura's overbearing, free-spirited mother, Dorene, who arrives at an inopportune time and politely refuses to leave. Rush's delivery of her dialogue is a triumph of delicate venom. She spits out Dorene's seemingly nonsensical thoughts or careless needling of her daughter with a precise diction ever-so-faintly echoed in Pourfar's measured delivery of Laura's lines.
Linda Winer, Newsday
: Much gets done in small corners of Michele Spadaro
's expansive, tastefully eclectic loft set. Every so often, we can hear Coen working too hard at marvelous dialogue, and we can't help but wonder why smart strangers don't use condoms. If they did, of course, we would not have a work that catapults Coen from hobbyist to major playwright.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today
: The reliable Deborah Rush
appears as Laura's mom, Dorene, who chooses the most inconvenient moment possible to pop up and rattle on about various past lovers. But Dorene turns out to have her own sensitivity, and wisdom, of a sort. Like all the others here, she earns the playwright's sympathy, and ours.
, NY Post
: The Coen brothers have been accused of favoring high style over emotion. Anybody who's seen "A Serious Man" or "True Grit" knows that just ain't so. The accusation hits closer to home when it comes to Ethan Coen
's stage work. Without his brother, Joel, Ethan is free to indulge in snappy dialogue and high-concept premises without concern for psychological insights.
, NY Daily News
: Despite some plot holes, roles as juicy as Laura are rare - and much coveted. Director David Crome
r, who's guided the beautifully designed production, could've cast big-name star power. Instead he lets an exceptional, but not famous, actress breathe life into the character. Pourfar, recently seen as the woman going deaf in "Tribes," which Cromer staged, captures Laura's precision and insecurity. It's a can't-miss performance that's undeniably gold-star terrific.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: Certainly all the ingredients are in place: a promising setup, a sterling cast, crisp direction by David Cromer, and some hilarious banter between various characters. But Women or Nothing feels undercooked. The characters still seem more like types, speaking in ways that only fictional people do (''I am in deadly earnest, Gretchen,'' Laura says at one point). More tellingly, the final act isn't so much ended as abandoned. The lights fade and the audience expectantly waits for another scene, a more satisfying conclusion with fewer unanswered (and unexplored) questions. For starters, why build an elaborate space for a baby-grand piano that forever hovers over the action but is never once played? C+
Page 2 »