A SHOW WITH HEART
by Kestryl Lowrey
published November 27, 2007
Rag and Bone
now playing Off Broadway at the Rattlestick Theater
through December 16
A ladder salesman specializing in the black-market sale of human hearts. A millionaire, tired of feeling numb to the world. A hooker with a heart of gold. A poet who has lost his heart. These are just a few of the characters who appear in Noah Haidle’s entertaining and amusing new comedy, Rag and Bone.
It can be a difficult thing to convincingly portray a middle-aged, alcoholic mother while sporting a full beard, but Michael Chernus manages the challenge with deft hilarity—he becomes, quite simply, a mom. Meanwhile, Mathew Stadelmann holds up his end of the show with energy and superb timing, though his character’s hyperactivity borders on obnoxious at the beginning of the show. Also deserving of note is Deirdre O’Connell as a working girl who won’t (can’t?) quit and her rocking rendition of Dumbo’s “Baby Mine.”
Playwright Noah Haidle is already becoming known for his inventive comedies, such as Mr. Marmalade (produced in 2005 by the Roundabout Theatre Company). Now, with the New York premiere of Rag and Bone, Haidle appears well on his way to building his reputation. In Rag and Bone, Haidle takes as his material the question of feeling -- too much, or too little. He has created a piece which is not only funny, but, pardon the pun, heartfelt as well.
In staging the work, Sam Gold allows for the wit of the play to shine while shaping the action to keep the piece moving at a strong pace. The transitions between scenes and locations are nicely realized, and the occasional violence is stylized into a humorous but unobtrusive addition. Though it is possible that he has encouraged some of the characters’ quirks a bit too far, this is ultimately not a complaint within the world of Rag and Bone.
Feeling and heart are the substance of life, which is, perhaps, why they make such a fertile subject for comedy. Audiences of Rag and Bone leave the theatre feeling exactly what they should after a comedy—satisfied and entertained.
kestryl.lowrey @ stageandcinema.com