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REVIEWS

The Men of Mah Jongg, by Richard Atkins
Bam Crack and Away We Go
Thursday, January 28, 2010
5.0
Bam Crack and Away We Go.

I attended "The Men of Mah Jongg" on their closing afternoon. It was great to see so many people coming out to the theatre as the Georgia Ensemble Theatre had to use their balcony for overflow. Who says live theatre is dead?! At least not here in Atlanta!

I went to the play not knowing what to expect as this is an original script I had never heard of. Boy was I in for a treat. I grew up in Philly and Sid's upper west side apartment reminded me a lot of an apartment I used to live in right in the heart of Philly.

There's something about the theatre that's presentational at it's heart. But, when you feel like your spying on someone, or some people, in this case, the four men of "The Men of Mah Jongg," you realize how difficult realism is to portray both directorially and from the writing of the characters. Mr. Atkins dialogue flows off the tongue seemlessly, crackling just at the right moment. All four men's characters in the play are completely defined, to a tee! There's no wondering throughout the whole play about a character's feelings or emotions, though there are great surprises in store for the audience in regards to feelings and emotions.

At times the emotional heights of the play are so high, you literally have to hold your breath until a calmer moment can present itself, yet, you like the ride that the writer is taking you on. It's a thrill ride alright. Anyone who has gone through loss can identify with the constant angst and heartache of grief, yet revel in the play's comic moments and the playwright's way of finding humor from the tragic moments in the play.

The Mah Jongg game was a great way to represent Sid's yearning to bring his deceased wife Mildred back and showed a juxtaposition with Marv who in the end needs Sid just as much as Sid needs him. Harry is hysterical as the new actor with nothing to lose playing a man with Alzheimers and Jerry's songs and character were a welcome mix to the festivities.

I've not heard of Richard Atkins before, but I do hope he brings another one of his fabulous comedies to Atlanta soon. In our present economic situation, we could all use a couple of laughs. Something "The Men of Mah Jongg" has plenty of!

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