Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of CONTINUITY, Directed by Rachel Chavkin?
Continuity, the new play by Lortel and Drama Desk Award nominee Bess Wohl (Small Mouth Sounds, American Hero) and directed by Tony Award nominee Rachel Chavkin (Hadestown; Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812), opened May 21 at The Studio at Stage II - Harold and Mimi Steinberg New Play Series at New York City Center (131 W. 55th Street).
The cast of Continuity features Max Baker (1984, The Explorers Club), Jasmine Batchelor (The River), Rosal Colón ("Orange is the New Black," Between Riverside and Crazy), Curran Connor (Pidgeon, A Picture of Autumn), Garcia ("Tales of the City"), Darren Goldstein (Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, The Madrid), Alex Hurt (Cardinal, The Whirligig) and Megan Ketch (The Big Wedding, "American Gothic").
A sheet of ice sits in the desert of New Mexico. A mad eco-terrorist plants a bomb in order to save humankind. A beleaguered film crew tries to get in one last shot before losing the light. In Continuity, storytelling and science collide with hilarious and devastating consequences. The play asks, "How do we keep going when hope can seem as fictional as a Hollywood ending?" and also, "What's for lunch?"
Let's see what the critics are saying...
Jesse Green, The New York Times: The themes of the play never cohere except in the title, which refers to two otherwise unrelated problems: keeping a movie consistent from scene to scene and keeping humankind alive from generation to generation.
That split might not matter if either the comedy or the drama were successful on its own terms. But with only a few throwaway exceptions, the comedy wilts and the drama, with no stageable crisis, fizzles. You're left with little to do but admire Ms. Wohl's clever connections and end-time puns. The movie term "losing the light," for instance, cuts two ways in a play about extinction.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: None of it makes much of an impact, and the running gags, including one in which the hapless PA is continually forced to replace a fake rock because people keep making the mistake of sitting on it, quickly wear out their welcome. As if to infuse the farcical proceedings with a gravity they don't deserve, Wohl has Larry deliver a climactic speech warning about the calamitous effects of climate change on the planet if significant action isn't taken quickly. Both the character and the monologue seem to have wandered in from another play entirely.
Sara Holdren, Vulture: Wohl's dialogue is sharp and sprightly, confident and fluid through both the casual banter and the leaps into big emotions and ideas. Though the movie's on-set science advisor, Larry (Max Baker), eventually busts out with a reprimand-not malicious, just full of a scientist's sad skepticism-that brings Maria and her crew to their knees, Wohl nimbly avoids speechifying. No one holds forth in Continuity, at least, never in a way that flattens character in service of message. People stay people-messy and maddening and well-intentioned-rather than becoming mouthpieces. Director Rachel Chavkin leans into the humor just enough, keeping the action swift and the escalating comedy of errors on Maria's set buoyant and amusing-in that familiar backstage way-until it's not.
Thom Geier, The Wrap: Rachel Chavkin directs "Continuity" with a fine balance between artificiality and realism, consistent with Wohl's script - which has iceberg-like depths beneath all its surface pleasures.
The production has been neatly staged by Rachel Chavkin, who has done so well by larger events such as the current Hadestown and Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812. Under Chavkin's guidance, the actors provide effective performances, especially so by Rosal Colón as the harried yet plucky director Maria and Alex Hurt, who wittily depicts the dimwit hunk Jake.