Review Roundup: MERCURY FUR Opens Off-Broadway
The New Group presents the Off-Broadway premiere of Philip Ridley's Mercury Fur. The production launched the company's 2015-16 season, opening earlier this week on August 19, 2015. The play is directed by Scott Elliott and runs at The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre (480 West 42nd Street).
MERCURY FUR features Jack DiFalco, Bradley Fong, Paul Iacono, Peter Mark Kendall, Emily Cass McDonnell, Sea McHale, Zane Pais and Tony Revolori.
In a society ravaged by warring gangs and a hallucinogenic-drug epidemic, Elliot and Darren, under the sway of the ruthless Spinx, throw parties for rich clients in abandoned apartment buildings, parties that help guests act out their darkest, most sinister fantasies. As the teenage brothers prepare for the latest festivities, some unexpected guests threaten the balance of the world they have created in the midst of this dystopian nightmare. Mercury Fur is a terrifying yet tender look at just how far people will go to protect those they love the most.
Let's see what the critics had to say...
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: ...this production -- directed by a keen-eyed Scott Elliott and featuring a capable, callow-seeming young cast whose ostensible dewiness disappears when the blood starts to flow -- deserves your full attention. A play whose extreme luridness is matched, and even trumped, by its intelligence, "MERCURY FUR" is sensational in pretty much every sense of the word...Mr. Ridley has created a rigorously detailed, self-contained universe, with its own language and logic, that suggests our own current Western civilization pushed one or two damaging degrees over the line into anomie. What is most frightening about "MERCURY FUR" is its matter-of-factness in depicting sadistic excesses -- and its assurance in making us feel how normal such behavior has become for its characters...I would even say that "MERCURY FUR" is a profoundly moral play, in that it asks how we define morality under extreme duress, in a world without structure.
Michael Dale, BroadwayWorld.com: Director Scott Elliot's sharp and tense production of Philip Ridley's 2005 post-apocalyptic drama Mercury Fur sure has the look and feel of something edgy and controversial, but the text would be more aptly described as vague and tedious...While the admirable actors do as much as can be expected with the material, the production's most impressive feature is set designer Derek McLane's finely detailed depiction of a crumbling apartment. The audience is seated on two sides with those up front sitting on old couches and living room chairs. The intention, no doubt, is to make patrons feel like they're silent guests at the party, but there's the added bonus that it's impossible for anyone to walk out without being noticed.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Straining mightily for shock value and somehow managing to be simultaneously intense and tedious, Mercury Fur is bound to leave audiences sharply divided...For all its deliberate attempts at provocation, the play feels far too familiar and studied to have the desired effect...There's certainly no fault to be found with director Scott Elliott's immersive production, with the audience seated so close to the action that sickening feelings of both voyeurism and complicity are vividly induced...The performances by the youthful ensemble are equally compelling, with McHale's charismatic turn as the vicious Spinx a particular standout. But by the time the nihilistic proceedings reach their apocalyptic conclusion, powerfully rendered via startling sound and lighting effects, weariness has long since set in.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: The characters of "MERCURY FUR" are trapped in a bombed-out dystopian hellhole. They have no escape. Neither do the audience members: The seating has been rearranged so it's almost impossible to leave once the show has started...You may be tempted to make a run for it anyway because this is one sadistic, brutal spectacle...The setting of Philip Ridley's 2005 play has been moved from London to New York, but the change doesn't help this New Group production, shakily directed by Scott Elliott -- the acting is especially uneven. But then the play itself is all shock and no awe, provocation for provocation's sake.
Matt Windman, AM New York: Who would have imagined that butterflies, when swallowed, could produce hallucinogenic visions, or that they would lead to the city's apocalyptic destruction? That would be Philip Ridley, whose dark and disturbing drama "MERCURY FUR" is receiving its New York premiere Off-Broadway..."MERCURY FUR" is a consistently engrossing thriller, a black comedy and a sad, sympathetic portrait of young adults trying to survive in a society gone the way of "Lord of the Flies." Much of the dialogue consists of characters' thinking back -- or at least attempting to think back -- on their former lives. Although this slows down the plotting, their memories add intrigue, alluding to what led to this new world order and hinting that some the character relationships are deeper than expected.
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Photo Credit: Monique Carboni