NY1 Theater Review: "The Great God Pan"
Amy Herzog, a 2012 Obie Award winner for the off-Broadway play "4,000 Miles", is back on the boards with the world premiere of "The Great God Pan". NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.
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Amy Herzog is a hot young writer. Her plays bristle with sensitivity and thoughtful reflection. More than anything else, her latest, "The Great God Pan", features some of the most honest, natural sounding dialogue you'll ever hear on the stage. But as exquisite as the Playwrights' Horizons production is, I wish it wasn't quite so dramatically cool.
It begins with an awkward meeting between two men who last saw each other when they were just seven. Now 32, Frank’s life has taken a downward turn. Jamie is a rising journalist. Frank startlingly reveals that his father molested him as a young boy and he believes that Jamie may have been victimized as well.
That is the disturbing thread that Herzog weaves delicately through the narrative. Jamie has no memory of sexual abuse but the revelation haunts him, eventually clouding his closest relationships. His longtime girlfriend, a former dancer turned nutrition therapist, feels it might explain his chilly nature. And it also might explain why he's treated his loving parents so distantly.
It's a play about simmering emotions that are never allowed to boil over. By extension, Carolyn Cantor's perceptive direction deliberately seemed to restrain her excellent actors. Combined, all that subtlety prevented the play from reaching its deepest emotional impact.
The parents, Becky Ann Baker and Peter Friedman, along with Joyce Van Patten as an addled former babysitter, handle subtext expertly. Erin Wilhelmi is very convincing as a young anorexic patient. Keith Nobbs nicely submerges himself as the troubled Frank. Sarah Goldberg shades the unsettled Paige with a palette of emotions, and Jeremy Strong superbly completes the picture of a young man lost in the memory of his identity.
"The Great God Pan" has much to offer, but when it ends with a whimper, we're left wanting more of a bang.