The Portrait – Location, Tickets, Reviews
AdLib (Actors and Directors Living in Brooklyn) Productions presents the world premiere of Sarah Levine Simon’s The Portrait. Originally written and produced as a radio play for NPR, it’s a satirical “comedy of bad manners” that mocks the disconnect between the haves and have-nots.
The play takes place in the 1980s at a Park Avenue apartment belonging to a wealthy couple, Helen and Toddy Renard. Before the guests arrive for a small dinner party, Toddy and his brother, Henry, place a winner-takes-all wager as to who can convince their much younger second cousin, Martin, to give up his prized portrait of their late ancestor Rebecca. The portrait completes a valuable trio of works painted by famous artist Thomas Sully; each of the brothers possesses one painting. Toddy and Henry each hope to acquire the entire set by swaying Martin to bequeath his mother’s inherited piece.
When Martin, a crude and free-spirited theater director, and Alissa, his artistic and spiritually-driven wife, enter the scene, sparks fly as to who should take possession of the portraits. A heated bidding war ensues over wine and truffled tortellini. All through the play, there is obvious tension between Alissa and Martin and their elderly, silk-stocking relatives, whose snide remarks about Martin’s career (and the theater world in general) are quite blatant. The characters’ actions are all slightly exaggerated, so as to emphasize the satirical nature of the play; for example, each character’s initial entrance is highly ostentatious, involving showy gesturing followed by a dramatic pose beneath a spotlight.
We understood that the overly dramatic movements of the actors were intentional and meant to further the satirical nature of the production, but we felt that it ultimately diminished its overall quality. Though it managed to extract a few chuckles from us, the play unfolded much too slowly, only to unveil an amusing — though not-so-impressive — end to the comic gathering.
The audience, largely comprised of middle-aged individuals sporting tweed slacks and wool sweaters, seemed to appreciate the play more than we did; we heard a good amount of laughter in response to the play’s jokes. Perhaps we just didn’t “get” all the subtle innuendos better detected by those who could more easily relate to the characters.
Have you seen The Portrait? What did you think? Comment below or tweet us at @maxamoo
None yet, but we’ll keep an eye out.
$18.00 (click here for tickets)
January 15 – 26, 2014
244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor
New York City
1 hour and 15 minutes, no intermission
CAST & CREW
Written by Sarah Levine Simon
Directed by Roger Hendricks Simon
Featuring Rutanya Alda, Caitlin O’Heaney, June Stein, Jessica Eleanor Grant, Roger Hendricks, Roger H. Simon, James Williams, and James Leaf