BWW Reviews: POOR BEHAVIOR is Bland Playwriting

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Theresa Rebeck's latest good-looking bad boy that women find irresistible is a smug, condescending pseudo-intellectual with a sexy Irish accent who thinks Americans are stupid and aggressively insists that the word "good" has no meaning.

BWW Reviews:   POOR BEHAVIOR is Bland Playwriting
Kate Kreisler and Brian Avers
(Photo: James Leynse)

The fact that Poor Behavior is not a one-act play might be the only logical reason why Ian's (Brian Avers) host couple hasn't kicked him out of their lovely country home after he glibly insults the of the lady of the house. But though Ella (Kate Kreisler) is wounded deeply by Ian's verbal abuse, Rebeck tosses out that old chestnut; the two of them once had a secret fling and Ella, married to the dull and placid Peter (Jeff Biehl), still has the hots for him.

Ian isn't much nicer to his emotionally drained wife, Maureen (Heidi Armbruster), who keeps reminding him that she's a catch who received three marriage proposals before he came along.

Beginning with a bang and steadily petering out, Poor Behavior is one of those plays that pairs up educated, upper-middle class couples, has them toss about a few gags involving fresh basil and gourmet muffins, and then allows the issues of one couple's crumbling marriage to invade the other couple's seemingly healthy one.

The quartet of actors work well together under Evan Cabnet's efficient direction, but while Rebeck's banter is sufficiently amusing, the characters offer little to care about and the playwright offers nothing fresh in her overlying theme of the subjectivity of morality.

There are enough twists and revelations to keeps viewers on their toes, but, despite an admirable production, Poor Behavior lies flat.

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.