Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

THIS PLAY IS

(A) WITTY

(B) INTELLIGENT

(C) INSPIRED

(D) NONE OF THE ABOVE

THE CORRECT ANSWER IS (D)

 

None of the AboveTheater Review

by Harvey Perr

published October 17, 2007

 

None of the Above

now playing through November 25

Off Broadway at The Lion on Theater Row

 

No doubt Jenny Lyn Bader will one day live up to her credentials and surprise us all by writing a first-class comedy, but one shouldn’t hold one’s breath waiting for that moment to arrive if her play “None of the Above” is any reflection of her talents. Her plot – stop me if you’ve heard it before – is the old one about the intellectual nerd who is hired to educate a seemingly lame-brained society debutante but who, as a result of their coming together, loosens up and becomes more human, while she becomes as smart as he is, if not, ahem, a little smarter.

 

It is not that, without a bit of wit and some insight, one couldn’t come up with a diverting variation on this tired theme, but Ms. Bader, possessing neither quality, merely reminds us of its more flavorsome predecessors without developing any fresh ideas of her own. So when bespectacled Clark, a compendium of cliches ranging from stiff to nervous and back again, shows up in the bedroom of Paris Hiltonish Jamie – a hot pink room that, as designed by Lauren Helpern, manages to be neither a reasonable facsimile of anyplace any young woman we might be interested in would live nor a droll commentary on life on the upper East Side – it is revealed that Clark has been hired by Jamie’s father to tutor her for her SAT exams.  This is the first in a series of scenes we must sit through that tell us very little about these two that is not irritatingly shallow.

 

However, Adam Green as Clark and particularly the persuasive Halle Feiffer as Jamie are so likeable as performers that we start to root for them to come through, despite very little help from the writing or from Julie Kramer’s flat direction. And, because we like them, some lovely things – they start shedding their cartoonish tics and start behaving like recognizable people – begin to happen at the top of the second act. But as the play goes on (and on) and protractedly wanders off into areas that are more and more preposterous – including an unneccesary subplot about a gambling debt and a romantic climax involving scaling the building to Jamie’s 17th floor apartment that even a sitcom might have wisely avoided –they cannot sustain any real charm or credibility and, in the end, they don’t seem to be in the same play anymore. It is always a little sad to come across such good actors being cast adrift and we are left no choice but to watch them as they move farther and farther out to sea and, finally, drown. They deserve a better-built boat.  

 

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

 

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