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Review Roundup: MTC's THE PERPLEXED - What Did the Critics Think?

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Review Roundup: MTC's THE PERPLEXED - What Did the Critics Think?

The Perplexed officially opened last night at MTC at New York City Center - Stage I (131 West 55th Street).

Two families, whose lives have been tumultuously intertwined for decades, gather in the massive library of a Fifth Avenue apartment to celebrate the nuptials of their children. Nothing goes smoothly and as the big moment approaches, the burning question is: can everyone put aside long-smoldering jealousies and deep-seated grudges and just get through the ceremony? The Perplexed, a bitingly witty new play, reunites Tony winner Richard Greenberg with MTC's award-winning Artistic Director Lynne Meadow.

The creative team for The Perplexed includes Santo Loquasto (scenic design), Rita Ryack (costume design), Kenneth Posner (lighting design), and Fitz Patton (sound design).

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Jesse Green, The New York Times: In any case, six are way too many for Richard Greenberg's hermetic family comedy, a modest story inflated to unwarranted size by what appears to be dramaturgical panic. "The Perplexed," directed by Lynne Meadow for Manhattan Theater Club, wants so much to be important that it forgets to be plausible first.

Frank Rizzo, Variety: But don't be fooled that you've entered a typical drawing room comedy, or even one of A.R. Gurney's exploration of class (though there's that, too). Here Greenberg is using the comedy set-up of impending nuptials to reveal something closer to contemporary existential angst - at least as demonstrated by the seeming adults in the room.

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Audience members are likely to share that detachment, since very little of consequence happens during the course of the lengthy proceedings except talk. Lots and lots of talk. Of course, plays generally consist of little else, but usually the dialogue has the purpose of advancing the plot or providing character definition. Here, it does little of either. The characters, who enter and leave the room as if they were auditioning for a French farce, periodically break off into small groups to engage in quiet, generally pointless conversation, with one or two others sometimes weirdly hovering in the background. It's hard to tell whether they're pretending not to listen or the actors are simply being ill-served by Lynne Meadows' stilted direction.

Robert Hofler, The Wrap: The perplexing thing about "The Perplexed" is that after every bombshell has been detonated - blackmail, a physical brawl and gay aversion therapy are three other biggies - nothing happens, nothing forces the characters to change. Everything of interest happens offstage or it happened hours, days or years ago. Even the major revelation regarding blackmail at the finale of "The Perplexed" is just another minor speed bump in that endless wait to the wedding, which, we're told, will take place around midnight. "The Perplexed" ends shortly before then.

Brittany Crowell, New York Theatre Guide: The Perplexed is a very entertaining character study. You will find yourself getting wound up in the drama of both individual and family and wondering: where is this complex web going to take us? Sadly, the train doesn't move too far out of the station. The piece examines each individual within its structure but doesn't deepen in its nearly two and a half hour running time to deal with some of the more perplexing issues these characters are facing.

Michael Sommers, New York Stage Review: Enough about the play. It is unlikely to ever be staged anywhere again. Some viewers might be perplexed why MTC has produced it at all, but theater companies often invest in playwrights rather than individual works. This Greenberg play may be trifling, and it is, but perhaps the next one that the gifted author writes for MTC will be a wonder.

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