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THE CIVILIANS: SO NICE TO HAVE SOME AROUND THE HOUSE

Theatre Review by Harvey Perr
published July 15, 2007

The Civilians in Gone Missing
now playing at the Barrow Street Theater
closes September 16, 2007

The Civilians in Gone Missing theatre review

I have a confession to make, one I’m sure no-self respecting theater reviewer should ever make in public. I’ve seen The Civilians twice now, previously in “(I Am) Nobody’s Lunch” and now in “Gone Missing,” and I’ve had a wonderful time at both of them, and (here I go with the confession, about to plunge into the critical abyss ) I just don’t know how to review them.  I think that The Civilians behind the scenes, Steve Cosson (who assembles the material) and composer Michael Friedman are very gifted and do what they do with a highly sophisticated sense of what’s potentially funny in the theater. The rotating members of the company, The (on-stage) Civilians are exemplars of physical and verbal comic precision as they re-enact moments that have been culled from real interviews with real people. And I admire, without reservation, their deft ways of weaving a single theme into the fabric they finally unveil as their finished product. But I fear that if I described what it is they do, I would be robbed of the pleasure I get from watching them do it. It’s as if, had I stopped to take a note, it might all unravel. Instead I choose to just let them do their thing, give me joy, and then I tell as many people as I can that they have simply got to see them for themselves. It might even be that its zaniest moments have nothing to do with its adherence to its theme. That makes it unique, something special indeed. There is a moment in GONE MISSING, which is ostensibly about the many kinds of things people lose, in which the men sing a number called “La Bodega,” which had me on the floor with laughter and which features a  buttoned-up dead-pan performance of one of the actors who seems to have lost his sense of rhythm. There is no describing how he gets it back. Nor should there be. You have to see for yourself. That is what defines it as good theater. I promise you that it is worth the price of admission.

 

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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