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Andrea Vitale [ALL REVIEWERS]
Companies Reviewed#
Georgia Ensemble Theatre1
Average Rating Given : 5.00000
Reviews in Last 6 months :

The Men of Mah Jongg, by Richard Atkins
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Some people might get the wrong impression about the rating system here at Theater Review. A 5 is considered the best. So, when I give "The Men of Mah Jongg" a 5, it's not 5 out of 10, it's 10 for 10, so to speak. I saw Mr. Atkins' play last week and I just can't stop thinking about it. It raised such awareness to me on so many levels. Especially in regards to men's feelings and sensitivity. Let's face it. Men don't like to show their sensitive sides, but the game of Mah Jongg seems to bring out the sincerity in these guys. The play made me laugh and made me cry. Something you can't always say when going to the live theatre. So many plays I've seen are so heavy with no humor, it just makes you not want to attend live theatre anymore. But "The Men of Mah Jongg" had such great comic moments and one-liners, that you accept the heavy aftermath, knowing full well that Mr. Atkins is going to come back with another zinger to carry you through. The dialogue was spectacular, never feeling forced and also genuine. The relationships between the men were very rich and well defined and the way Mah Jongg comes into their lives is very ingenious. I am Italian, but I play Mah Jongg with two other Jewish women and an Atheist pretty much. We all get along and dish the dirt just like Sid, Harry, Marv and I think his name is Jerry. What I'm trying to say is that the play doesn't necessarily cater to a Jewish audience, it is universal in it's appeal. And, it doesn't cater to a crowd over 50 and my kids and grandkids would appreciate the play as well. There's a reason people jumped to their feet at the end of the play. I remember "Terms of Endearment" was pretty much a comedy the first hour and then high tragedy the second. The difference between "Endearment" and "Mah Jongg" is that "Mah Jongg" mixes the poignant with the comic throughout the play which puts you at the edge of your seat and you don't realize the first act is over until the house lights come up. Also, as far as comedies go, we are all familiar with Neil Simon, the king of comedy. However, Simon's work can be formula driven and doesn't have the uniqueness that Mr. Atkins' script presents to us. I wish it was still playing as I would like to bring more of my friends to see it again and relish in watching them enjoy the play as much as I did. The actors were great, the set was authentic and the direction was fast paced and energetic. Bravo, "Men of Mah Jongg."

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