Entries in Anna Camp (2)

Saturday
Apr282018

"EGG" // TRIBECA 2018 REVIEW

BY MATEO MORENO

Words, as they can, can be sharper than knives. That’s certainly the case in EGG, the new film written by Risa Mickenberg and directed by Marianna Palka. The premise revolves around two couples who are joining together in a loft style apartment to welcome a child into the world. Once they all arrive, verbal daggers and veiled judgments surround them, mostly in real time. You alternately howl with laughter or tense up, and the ensemble cast crackles with venom, reminding you of a modern Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.

 

Tina and Wayne (Alysia Reiner and Gbenga Akinnagbe) are a married couple in New York who at first seem like a loving couple that simply accepts Tina’s success and understands Wayne’s aimlessness. The live in a huge “artist loft” and have invited Tina’s lifelong friend Karen (Christina Hendricks) and her husband Don (David Alan Basche). Karen is eight months pregnant and very excited for motherhood. Tina is very excited to tell her everything that’s wrong with having a baby. All four of them could not be any different. And…. they’re off.

 

One of the great that works in EGG is how the razor-sharp zingers don’t just come from the tongue of Tina, they come right back at her from Karen. No one here is a victim and everyone has their say. As they go back and forth, you wonder if this would play even better as an intimate Off-Broadway play, as much of the staging feels “theatre-esque.” Most of the dynamics of the characters work, and Alysia Reiner and Christina Hendricks are especially great. Gbenga Akinnagbe has some solid moments as well, but sadly you hate David Alan Basche immediately and you don’t stop. He’s the only character that felt like so much of a shit that you don’t understand why his wife would be married to him. He’s awful, and I suppose it’s a credit to Basche that he plays it right up. Anna Camp has a bit of a thankless role in a part that isn’t fully needed but nonetheless works. With firecracker dialogue by Mickenberg and assured directing by Palka, EGG grabs your throat and doesn’t let go.

 
 
VERDICT: SEE IT
 
WRITTEN BY Risa Mickenberg DIRECTED BY Marianna Palka STARRING Christina Hendricks, Anna Camp, Alysia Reiner, David Alan Basche, Gbenga Akinnagbe. Playing as part of the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. https://www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/egg-2018

 

Tuesday
Jul262011

LET ME GO // A theatre review of All New People

BY MATEO MORENO

When Garden State first came out in theatres, people proclaimed that the indie world had found a new darling.  The quirky and charming Zach Braff, who each week played the quirky and charming J.D. Dorian on NBC’s Scrubs, had written and directed a film that spoke to a new generation.  It was touching, funny, and unlike other films being released at the time.  It also spawned a hit soundtrack and made indie darlings, The Shins, into overnight stars.  Then, other than a rumored uncredited rewrite of The Last Kiss, Braff’s pen stayed undrawn, until now.  His newest writing assignment isn’t in a feature film, but on the stage, Second Stage to be exact, with All New People.


Photo by Joan Marcus

Justin Bartha (The Hangover) plays Charlie, a man who at the start of the play is trying to kill himself.  He’s attempting to hang himself in his friend’s apartment on New Jersey’s Long Beach Island when Emma (Krysten Ritter of the upcoming Apartment 23) bursts in on him unexpectedly.  Not knowing what to do, she saves his life, which he is none too grateful for.  Emma’s a real estate agent trying to rent out the vacation house but once she sees Charlie there, she feels drawn to him and wants to help him.  They are eventually joined by Emma’s friend Myron (David Wilson Barnes, last seen on this stage in Becky Shaw), a local fire chief with an affinity for drugs, and Kim (True Blood’s Anna Camp), a high paid escort that his friend has sent there, completely paid for, to cheer him up.  Of course Charlie doesn’t want any of them there but, try as he might, he can’t get any of them to leave.  One by one, each of the characters open up and though they all form an alliance of sorts to help Charlie, they also end up helping each other in strange and surprising ways.

Braff has written an utterly hilarious play that speaks volumes about his characters on stage.  There are more laugh out loud lines in the first 30 minutes than most plays have in the entire show.  And Director Peter DuBois (Becky Shaw, Trust) stages the evenings proceeds with a great mixture of physical comedy (the un-doing of a very expensive piece of art is brilliantly executed), solid laughs, and real drama that sneaks in through the cracks.


Photo by Joan Marcus

The cast is also quite excellent.  Bartha plays the suicidal Charlie with a strong mixture of despair and likability.  He draws you in with his moping instead of turning you away with it, as so many actors playing suicidal often do.  He also has a knack for physical comedy.  Ritter is adorably charming as the woman trying to sell the house and saying all the wrong things, which may just be the right things.  Her English accent at times was a bit stereotypical, but her charm and fantastic sense of comic timing and ability to draw you into her own sadness win you over over any small accent flaw.  Barnes and Camp however deliver some of the biggest and ridiculous laughs of the night, and in Barnes’ case, also lands a powerful dramatic weight to the evening.

The terrific ensemble is joined by short films detailing each of the character’s backstory, which feature terrific small performances by Kevin Conway, Tony Goldwyn, and S. Epatha Merkerson.  The filmed sequences are unique and clever, and add to an overall sense of “this hasn’t been done before” feeling throughout the evening.  All in all, All New People is an extremely funny, touching playwriting debut from Braff that, much like Garden State, signals what an observant and true writer of the human condition he is.  My only hope is that he continues to let us into his hilarious and disarming psyche more often.

Written by Zach Braff Directed by Peter DuBois Starring Justin Bartha, Krysten Ritter, David Wilson Barnes, Anna Camp Content Disclaimer (Adult Language, Adult Situations) Opened on July 25th, 2011 Closes on Aug. 14th, 2011 at Second Stage Theatre, 305 W 43rd Street, NYC.  For tickets: http://www.2st.com/plays/tickets/2000/

Mateo’s Grade: A-

What BVEW Members Might Like: A very funny and charming script by Braff and strong, solid performances by the entire cast.

Bottom Line: A strange, funny, and moving play that lands Braff directly into the theatre world with an impressive aplomb.