BWW Reviews: Group Rep Revives Early Albee

The American Dream/by Edward Albee/directed by Alyson York/Group rep/through April 19

Early Albee is better than no Albee at all, but a recent look at his The American Dream, circa 1960, shows how he had not quite settled into a style of his own. Now onstage at Group rep in NoHo, the one-act belongs to the Theatre of the Absurd, and like any good vaudeville, pokes fun at just about everything from the instability of marriage to poor child rearing to abuse of the elderly. The American Dream in this case is a young stud (Andre Jack) with a muscle t-shirt who could be Mommy and Daddy's son but instead is a boy toy who may bring some joy to the faltering marriage bed but certainly not in the same way the American Dream envisions. Apart from belonging to the absurdist camp, the play reminded me of British farce where the language is inane and the actions about equal. The character American Dream is akin to Sloane in Entertaining Mr. Sloane without the evil slant. Here he is innocence personified; in Sloane, no. Albee protests fiercely against the idol rich, as Mommy, Daddy and Grandma all come from a clan...and they are obviously squandering too much time and energy.

Director Alyson York has created a quick pace for her actors to follow and her ensemble are very well chosen. Linda Aznauer couldn't be better as the materialistic, egomaniacal emasculator Mommy who devours everyone in sight. Michael Robb is the perfect emasculated Daddy who nods his head and keeps his mouth shut. Renee Gorsey steals the hour as Grandma, perhaps the most intelligent member of the family. She jabbers incessantly and chomps on a cigarette while filling in much of the family background. Gorsey has so much fun with this character who's been around the block more than once; she's a joy to watch. Christina Carson is delightful as Mrs. Barker, head of the ladies council who comes into a room and removes her dress as well as her coat, and then sits bemused in her slip. See what I mean about the British farce!? Albee had to be a fan of those oh so naughty ladies who only pretended not to know the score. Jack as the Young Man is cute, sexy and totally willing. It's a terrific cast in a silly romp that will appeal to some and not to others. On the night I attended, I noticed many in the audience lost sight of the humor, and it was by no means the fault of the director or her actors. They just got lost in the somewhat overbearing style of Albee's jibberish.

Bravo to one and all for a supreme effort! The American Dream does show moments of George and Martha from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but only the slightest glimpse. At this juncture Albee was still trying to find his true form as a playwright.

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From This Author Don Grigware

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