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Love & Money

a Comedy
by A.R. Gurney

COMPANY : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : ART Station Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 5507

SHOWING : May 02, 2019 - May 19, 2019



Determined to donate almost everything she owns before her life of grace and privilege ends, wealthy widow Cornelia Cunningham’s plan hits a snag when an ambitious and ingratiating young man arrives to claim his alleged inheritance. Renowned playwright A.R. Gurney paints an incisive and hysterical portrait of the trials of class, family, legacy, race, and the power of a good story.

Director Paul Conroy
Jessica Caty Bergmark
Harvey Elliott Folds
Cornelia Janet Metzger
Agnes Theresa O'Shea
Walker Brandon Smith
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Perfect Posture
by playgoer
Monday, May 20, 2019
Remove the charming eccentricity from "The Curious Savage." Remove the physical menace from "Six Degrees of Separation." Smoosh the results together and you might end up with something like A.R. Gurney’s "Love & Money." In this show, a wealthy white woman (Janet Metzger) has decided to dispose of her belongings and bequeath her fortune to charity, but her plans hit a snag with the entrance of a charismatic young black man (Brandon Smith) who spins stories that contain tantalizing bits of truth. Will the young man be exposed as a con man, or will his assertions prove to be factual? The plot answers the question, but not in a particularly novel fashion. At least the play is short.

Michael Hidalgo’s set design is of a Victorian parlor jam-packed with books and oddities. There’s a working player piano, suits of armor, and an elephant foot wastebasket, among an ornate desk and other furnishings. There are variously colored tags on most of the items, marking them for donation or consignment. It’s a visual feast, and Jeanne Fore’s costumes and Mr. Hidalgo’s lighting design add to the banquet.

Pre-show music consists of recordings of Cole Porter songs. Then the show starts with a spotlight on an antique radio, a Cole Porter tune playing on it. More Cole Porter figures into the action, with a lawyer (Elliott Folds) and the young man (Brandon Smith) singing excerpts of a couple of his songs, plus a full rendition of "Make It Another Old-Fashioned, Please" by a Juilliard student (Caty Bergmark). The Cole Porter soundtrack emphasizes the WASP-y background of the story.

The secondary cast is perfectly fine. Mr. Smith has the requisite smoothness and charm for his character, along with lithe, loose-limbed movements. Ms. Bergmark has a tiny role, but lands her song and all her laugh lines, showing great timing. Mr. Folds has a nice dynamic range as the lawyer, letting his natural ease onstage support his dynamic performance. Perhaps best of all is Theresa O’Shea as the person who runs the household. Her prickly deference sparks the proceedings with lots of bits of smile-inducing humor.

The problem with the show is the performance of Janet Metzger. Her background is mostly in film and audiobooks, and this background shows far too evidently, to the detriment of the production. Her nicely modulated voice, perfect posture, careful hair, and guarded expressions certainly indicate wealth and privilege, but they also make her bland to the point of boredom. This is a woman who is regarded by others as slightly off her rocker, and who questions at times if her mind is becoming vague, but she comes across as perfectly sane and balanced (and bland). Director Paul Conroy has failed in helping her find the core of the character while simultaneously layering on theatrically interesting behaviors that would immediately engage the sympathies of the audience. The uninteresting performance of the central character in "Love & Money" proves to be a fatal flaw.

At least the two-act play is short. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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