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BWW Reviews: ONE HAND CLAPPING by Anthony Burgess at 59E59 is Outstanding


"It's not the world that's wicked. It's the people that's in it"

-One Hand Clapping

Anthony Burgess' One Hand Clapping is now on stage through May 31st at the 59E59 Theater. And this play is a real must-see. Produced by House of Orphans in Manchester, Great Britain, this captivating dark comedy is adapted and directed by Lucia Cox. In his 1961 novel, Burgess has created a fascinating, entertaining story with many layers and it is being brilliantly executed as a play. One Hand Clapping one of the theatrical pieces in the "Brits Off-Broadway" festival now at 59E59.

In the show, a young married couple, Howard and Janet Shirley live a very provincial life. Janet is content to work at the local supermarket, cook simple meals for her husband and watch television. Howard, a used car salesman, decides to unleash his photographic mind for financial gain. After a successful game show stint, he gambles his winnings to gain more money. The couple embarks on a lavish trip to the states but upon returning home, Howard has a sinister plan for them. Yet, Howard may have completely underestimated Shirley.

While One Hand Clapping has moments of total absurdity, the characters are relatable and wholly interesting. The cast does a great portrayal of the story's humor, drama and action. Eve Burley as Janet executes her role perfectly. Burley plays the cheerful, attractive and somewhat perplexed housewife while also providing a full narrative for the story. Oliver Devoti is ideal in the role of Howard, an overly serious, controlling and obsessive type. Adam Urey rounds out the cast playing two very different roles. He appears as the enthusiastic game show host Laddie ONeill and also a ne'er do well poet, Redvers Glass who becomes entangled in the lives of the Shirleys. With multiple television screens on stage to develop the tenor of the scenes, Richard Stott does a fine job in the role of Peter, a game-show contestant.

The clever staging relies on the living room set which proves to be very flexible in the play's many scenes. The creative team has done a superb job of bringing One Hand Clapping to 59E59 with sound design by Owen Rafferty, set and costume design by Meriel Pym and lighting design by Owen Rafferty and Lucia Cox. The Stage Manager for the production is Cressa Amundsen.

You will deeply consider this shows characters, laugh a little, raise your brow and gasp. One Hand Clapping is a unforgettable theatrical experience.

One Hand Clapping is on a limited engagement through May 31st. The show is approximately 80 minutes without an intermission. The theater is located at 59 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison Avenues) New York, NY 10022. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or go to

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From This Author Marina Kennedy