NY1 Theater Review: "Man And Boy"
A new take on 1963’s “Man and Boy” is pertinent and well-acted, if a bit flawed otherwise. NY1’s Roma Torre filed the following report.
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If it's possible for a play to be both fascinating and dull at the same time, "Man and Boy" is it. The 1963 Terence Rattigan drama is a dense, over-long portrait of a corrupt depression era financier played to dastardly perfection by Frank Langella.
It's 1934 and Langella is Gregor Antonescu. For him, like so many ruthless businessmen today, the art of the deal is a bloodsport and he will do anything to win. Substitute Bernard Madoff and audiences would instantly recognize the type.
Set amid a badly weakened economy, there are more parallels. Rattigan's dialogue is peppered with words like "unemployment," "inflation," and "crisis of confidence". Yet “Man and Boy” is too caught up in the minutiae of high-finance, and act one tends to drag.
It's not until act two that audiences are able to fully appreciate Rattigan's gift for expressing seething unspoken tensions. In the play, Antonescu makes a surprise visit to his son's modest Greenwich Village apartment. The two haven't spoken in five years and it's a chilly reunion, as audiences learn that Antonescu is merely there to hide out while under investigation for shady business dealings. Love, as he points out, is a commodity he can least afford.
The performances are all good. Michael Siberry as Antonescu's man Friday and Zach Grenier, a business rival, stand out , but Langella's work is revelatory. With his reptilian seductiveness, he is mesmerizing. The embodiment of monstrous greed, he goes so low as to pimp out his own son, and yet the magic of his performance is that he's still able to convey a shred of humanity.
“Man and Boy” is a very difficult play to stage. It's full of holes and over-written, but thanks in large part to a brilliant star performance, it does offer a compelling study of moral bankruptcy, even if audiences may have a hard time buying it.