Reviewed by Nicholas Linnehan
Plays about plays can be hard and often tricky to understand. However, Theater Breaking Through Barriers does an above average job making this play, The Fourth Wall by A.R. Gurney accessible and timely, in every sense of the words. Though it wavers at times, this is a mostly enjoyable production.
Peggy has redecorated the living room and her husband, Roger, can’t stand it. Peggy’s usual exquisite taste was overcome by a mysterious lapse which caused her to redo the room as if it were a stage set. Everything faces one wall, the “fourth wall,” which she’s left bare and which is really the audience. But what lies beyond this infamous “fourth wall”? These existential questions permeate the play
The cast does a fine job bringing this meta heavy production to life. The highlight of the cast is Stephen Drabicki, who plays an eccentric drama professor brought in to solve the ominous riddle of what lies beyond the fourth wall His stylistic choices all add up and brings great comedic life to his scenes. Nicholas Viselli does a fine job as Roger, who is definitely trying to save his marriage.
Unfortunately, there is some over-acting in this play that bogs it down. This play has music in it by Cole Porter. Vaselli and Drabicki have stellar voices, which makes them a delight to listen to. Yet, the vocal talent of the entire cast is not equally matched.
Again, what mostly hurts this production, has nothing to do with a lack of talent on stage. It is the play within a play conundrum which causes some confusion for the audience There are many dated political references that obscure what could be a timely piece of theater. This is no fault of the production team, as they tried to update the script but were thwarted by the Gurney Foundation. Still, the parallels are there, but it’s a shame they can not hit the nail directly on the head.
Still, Theater Breaking Through Barriers does not disappoint. There usage of differently abled artists show just how talented they are. Disability is NOT on display here! Rather, it’s just a group of very capable actors shining due to their incredible prowess as storytellers. They deserve our support and we should give it to them in abundance. This is definitely a piece of theater that matters!
The Fourth Wall plays now through June 24, 2018 at A.R.T. NY 502 W 55th St. http://www.tbtb.info