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BWW Review: LIVES OF REASON at TRT A Fascinating New Play


Lives of Reason is now on stage at Two River Theater (TRT) through February 7th. This World Premiere play is co-written by the theater's founder Robert Rechnitz and Kenneth Stunkel. It is a fine, new theatrical piece superbly written and wonderfully performed. It enjoys exceptional direction by Jonathan Fox, the former Artistic Director at Two River Theater. The play has a fascinating plot and also captures an insightful view of academic life with just the right touches of humor.

Lives of Reason is set at the Livingston College English Department faculty party in the home of professor Andrew Hedman (Jay Russell). Invited guests include the university president, Jacob Stein (John C. Vennema) and professors Sam Deluca (Phillip Goodwin), Carl Cooper (Maurice Jones), Hartley Clare (William Parry) and Jeffrey Cabot (Matthew Lieff Christian), all men with individual expertise in their discipline. Joining the gathering are Hartley's wife, Edna (Maureen Silliman), Jeffrey's wife, Ilona (Mairin Lee), and the school's benefactor, Matthew Livingston (Peter Rini). Ilona, originally from Budapest, is an enticing beauty who flirts with college student, Jimmy (Patrick Monaghan), is having affair with Professor Cooper and was a past love of Matthew Livingston.

The party takes an awkward turn and tensions rise as some of the characters contend over the appointment of a new dean for the college. Ilona is desperate to have her husband, Jeffrey appointed to the deanship, but clearly has ulterior motives. Her irrational behavior is very disruptive to the gathering and you will wonder how these intellectuals' lives, that are often based on reason, are going to be affected.

The ten thespians master their respective roles with fine portrayals of the show's interesting and quirky characters. The captivating dialogue is delivered with perfect pacing.

TRT's intimate black box theater is the ideal space for Lives of Reason. Audiences will feel like guests in the classic living room setting. The design team has done a wonderful job of bringing the show to life with scenic design by Charlie Corcoran, costume design by Karen Perry, lighting design by Gina Scherr, sound design by Jane Shaw. J. Steven White is the Fight Director, the casting is by Dale Brown and Larry Copeland is the Production Stage Manager.

See Lives of Reason. It is a thought provoking and entertaining play about people who comprise the complex world of academia.

Lives of Reason is on a limited engagement at Two River Theater through February 7th. It runs for 90 minutes with no intermission. The theater is located at 21 Bridge Street, Red Bank, NJ 07701. For tickets and more information call 732.345.1400 or visit

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

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