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NY1 Theater Review: "Lonely, I'm Not"

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Filmmaker-playwright Paul Weitz's latest off-Broadway production, "Lonely, I'm Not," continues his theme of stories about damaged souls. NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

"Lonely, I'm Not" is yet another charming runt of a stage work from filmmaker-playwright Paul Weitz. Best known for his movies American Pie and In Good Company, his muse is damaged souls - flawed strivers who just can't get their act together. And so it is here with his latest - a thin, over-produced, expertly acted romantic comedy about two misfits who'd probably be better served on a big screen.

They meet on a blind date that is perhaps too literal for comfort. Heather is legally blind and Porter is just now starting to "see" - metaphorically speaking - after being blinded by youthful ambition. Four years earlier he suffered a crippling nervous breakdown while at his high-powered job on Wall Street. Known as the "Ninja" for his shrewd business savvy, he's now reduced to a hollow shell of a man, practically emotionless and barely able to manage even the basics of life. Heather by contrast is a high-achiever anxious to prove her independence.

Weitz does an excellent job crafting these wounded characters. Opposites on the surface, they are kindred spirits beneath the skin and their romance is handled with pointed humor and engaging tenderness. Topher Grace, making his off-Broadway debut, is ideal in the role. He somehow manages to make Porter's depressive miserableness attractive. Perhaps it's because he delivers every line with unadorned honesty. Olivia Thirlby is a fine match. She is utterly believable as a driven blind woman with an aversion to pretense.

An added bonus - three terrific Broadway veterans in multiple roles.

Trip Cullman's focused direction is marred by a fussy production larded with LED titles marking an excess of scenes - some of which are inconsequential.

All in all, there's less substance here than meets the eye. But given the finely calibrated performances and sharp writing, if the characters are lonely, the audience is in very good company.

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