Dying City: Joan Marcus

Dying City

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March 13, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

”It’s good…within the confines,” says a character in Christopher Shinn’s Dying City, an apt description of the play itself as well. But its confines become way too constrictive, and despite moments of terse insight, this murky drama fails to rise above gimmicks and histrionics. The 90-minute play centers on three characters and two actors: moody Iraq-bound soldier Craig (Pablo Schreiber), who dukes it out with his starchy wife Kelly (Rebecca Brooksher) before he is sent away, and, in a parallel narrative, Craig’s gay identical twin (also Schreiber), an insecure actor who drops in on Kelly a while after Craig’s death (ostensibly to keep communication lines open but actually to reveal a Big Secret). The Iraq War is really used as backdrop for some charged discussions that sound like they pour more out of an idealistic playwright’s head than these characters’, and eventually everything coalesces into one big whinefest. More problematic is Anthony Ward’s square island set, which slowly rotates until it comes full circle (one supposes this is relative to its characters, except that they don’t). However, the two leads find the right notes much of the time: Schreiber makes Craig and Peter two separate and distinct people, even when betrayed by the script’s leaden twists. Brooksher’s role is close to unplayable at times, but the actress excels in the play’s quieter moments, rather than in the dramatic shouting matches. And everyone knows that too much shouting just results in a headache. C (Tickets: 212-239-6200 or Telecharge.com)

Dying City

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Dying City

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