Review: THE HABIT OF ART at 59E59 Theaters-A Fascinating View of Theatre and Relationships

The Habit of Art by Original Theater is now being performed at 59E59 Theaters through May 28th.

By: May. 12, 2023
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Review: THE HABIT OF ART at 59E59 Theaters-A Fascinating View of Theatre and Relationships

"Great acting is a toolbox." By Kay in The Habit of Art

Insightful, comical, and wonderfully presented, The Habit of Art by Original Theater is now being performed at 59E59 Theaters through May 28th. Finely written by Alan Bennett and excellently directed by Phillip Franks, the show's cast of seven actors shines bright on the Upper East Side stage. The Habit of Art is part of the Theaters' exciting Brits Off Broadway line-up of shows.

This play-within-a-play is set in a rehearsal room where a theatre company is working on "Caliban's Day" and are challenged to practice without the presence of the director. Their play tells of the aging British American Poet, W.H Auden who is living a lonely life. Enter Benjamin Britten, the British composer, conductor and pianist who hasn't seen Auden for 25 years yet is seeking advice for his new opera, Death in Venice. The two men engage in a fascinating and sometimes contentious discourse about their pasts and what the future holds. In full rehearsal mode, the cast and production team of "Caliban's Day" carry on while they often pause to question the dialogue, character motivations, and staging much to the annoyance of the play's author.

Review: THE HABIT OF ART at 59E59 Theaters-A Fascinating View of Theatre and Relationships

The troupe of actors in The Habit of Art masters the play's ecclectic characters and deliver Alan Bennett's sharp dialogue with humor and verve. They include Matthew Kelly as Fitz who plays W.H. Auden; Stephen Boxer as Henry who plays Benjamin Britten; Benjamin Chandler as Tim who plays Stuart; Jessica Dennis as George, the Assistant Stage Manager; Robert Mountford as Neil, the author of Caliban's Day; Veronica Roberts as Kay, the Company Stage Manager; and John Wark as Donald who plays Humphrey Carpenter.

Review: THE HABIT OF ART at 59E59 Theaters-A Fascinating View of Theatre and Relationships

Memorable scenes from the production of "Caliban's Day" include Humphrey as a reporter tasked to interview Auden; Stuart arriving at Auden's apartment for paid sexual favors; Kay and George portraying pieces of furniture; Britten telling Auden about the plans for his opera; Neil becoming exasperated by the actors; Auden and Britten talking about their partners; and Kay's discussion about how actors really feel.

The Habit of Art's Creative Team has done a great job of bringing the show to the stage. The Team includes design by Adrian Linford; lighting design by Johanna Town; and sound and musical arrangement by Max Pappenheim. Joyce Nettles is the Casting Director and Tim Speechley serves as the Company Stage Manager. The promotional photography is by Michael Wharley and the artwork is by Sam Charrington.

The Habit of Art is a show that will resonate with anyone who enjoys theatre as it is a clever view of actors and their artistic approaches. See it while you can at 59E59 Theaters. The show runs for 1 hour and 55 minutes with one 15 intermission. The Theaters are located at 59 East 59th Street (between Madison and Park Avenues).

Photo Credit: Carol Rosegg




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