Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Places to Live and Love

Hunting and Gathering
Written by Brooke Berman
Directed by Leigh Silverman
Starring Michael Chernus, Mamie Gummer, Keira Naughton, Jeremy Shamos

January 22-March 1, 2008
Primary Stages at 59E59 Theatres
59 East 59 Street

Brooke Berman’s Hunting and Gathering is an autobiographical play about Ruth, who spends a lot of time looking for a place to live in NYC. The clever opening scene of this lightweight comedy has Ruth presenting a slide show of all the apartments she has inhabited over the past several years. (Any New Yorker will identify with her ongoing plight.) Unfortunately, Berman really has nothing more to say here than that it’s tough to find a decent apartment and a suitable soul mate in the big city.

The other characters are Astor, Ruth's best friend and an eternal wanderer; his older brother Jesse, Ruth’s ex-lover; and Jesse’s current flame, Bess, who happens to be one of his students. For 90 painless minutes, these people criss-cross among each other as they squabble, hook up, and attempt to find some stability in terms of their relationships and where they live.

Jeremy Shamos is an engaging Jesse, and Michael Chernus is very funny as Astor. Mamie Gummer (Meryl Streep’s daughter) does a fine job as Bess, but Keira Naughton isn't especially appealing as Ruth.

Leigh Silverman directs smoothly. David Korins’ cluttered set of stacked boxes effectively does double duty as furniture, thanks to cannily hidden openings and storage spaces. But, overall, Berman’s lightweight comedy doesn't have a lot going for it.
originally posted on timessquare.com

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