By: Sandi Durell
“What am I, a salmon? Am I supposed to mate once and then die?” So asks Bill (Jeff Goldblum) when he loses his professional career as a gynecologist – politician, as a speaker for women’s health issues, when he’s caught with his pants almost down at an encounter with a prostitute (Aleque Reid). There’s bad luck attached to this liason when he claims she fell while taking something out of his hand, hit her head and is now in a comatose –vegetative state. And that’s why he’s being grilled before a Judge at an inquest, and why his wife Judy (Laurie Metcalf), a writer, can’t stop harassing him, literally unable to finish sentences because it’s all tumbling out faster than she can speak.
Well, this dramedy, commissioned and written by Bruce Norris (Pulitizer & Tony Winner “Clybourne Park”) is surely one that will get lots of buzz, not only because of the star attractions and high level performances, but because it poses questions of sexual behavior – is marriage meant to be a lifetime of fidelity to one person or, as it is explained by adopted younger daughter Cassidy (an expressionless Misha Seo), a smorgasbord for feasting of more aberrant behavior, more in tune with her dad, as comparisons are made in the animal kingdom (Wildebeest, Gnu, Hyena) and to various species of birds and underwater life projected on screens above the stage.
Sister Casey (Emily Meade) is outraged and disgusted by her father’s behavior; she’s nasty, venomous and a bitchy all about me teen who needs a good slap in the face.
Bill’s attorney, Bobbie (Mia Barron), Judy’s best friend, is quick-tongued eventually revealing her more than friendly relationship with Bill. And when Act 2 roles around and Bill finally gets to speak (he doesn’t say much in Act 1, but his silence is bountiful), another wrench is thrown in when it’s discovered that he’s spent $100K on hookers with 37 encounters! Is he sorry? No! What’s a guy expected to do . . . ”I am a man, all right?”
Metcalf is unrelenting in her diatribe but Goldblum thinks on a different plane as the discussions become more heated, the language and visual references unbounded.
Goldblum plays Bill as if he can’t understand what the fuss is about, love is just a term for a sexual chemical attraction and, after all, he can’t be expected to be sexually true to only one woman for the rest of his life! This is more than obvious when he leaves home and he’s in a bar defending himself to a waitress and is challenged by a transgender patron, Robin de Jesus, regarding his attitude toward women. Of course, if you look at the line-up of characters, they’re all women except for good ole Bill.
In the fray are Bill’s mother played by Mary Beth Peil; Karen Pittman plays the inquisitive media personality; Vanessa Aspillaga is Pilar, as Judge & housekeeper, and Elizabeth Mackay is the prostitute’s mother.
Norris questions marriage, fidelity, sexuality, hypocrisy and the complexity of human nature in this tightly spun incendiary tale illuminated by director Anna D. Shapiro. You really don’t want to miss this!
*Photos: Joan Marcus
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater at Lincoln Centre, thru January 5th.
212 239-6200 www.lct.org