By Barbara & Scott Siegel
She has a famous last name, courtesy of her grandfather, director Elia Kazan, but she is fast becoming famous in her own right because she is, without doubt, among her generation’s most talented young actresses. So far, she has garnered two Lortel nominations and two Drama Desk Nominations for her work in the theater (not to mention an Emmy Nomination for her TV work), but the reason she is so much in demand isn’t because she’s a critic’s darling; it’s because she’s a director’s dream. Simply put, Zoe Kazan inevitably stands out because she is so incredibly gifted at fitting in. Case in point, the current production of Love, Love, Love at the Roundabout’s Laura Pels Theatre.
In this Mike Bartlett play, brought over from the UK, Kazan is in a cast with four other actors, two of whom are far more famous than she: Amy Ryan (two Tony Nominations), and movie star Richard Armitage of Hobbit fame. The other two actors, Alex Hurt and Ben Rosenfield have pretty impressive credits, as well. But when the play is over, the only character who really registers is Kazan’s.
Playing a teenager in the second act of Love, Love, Love and the same character at the age of thirty-seven in the third act (yes, there are three acts in this otherwise two hour and five minute play), she brings a world of pain and compassion to her performance that is simply heartbreaking. While the other actors are playing parts, Kazan is playing a human being. And we care. The remarkable thing she does in Love, Love, Love is play each of those roles, separated by more than twenty years, convincingly. She is the epitome of awkward teenage angst in one act, and just as believable as a worn out woman fearing the onset of an empty middle age in her other act. Director Michael Mayer (4 Tony Awards) knows a good actor when he sees one. And he cast one of the best for this play.
For us, it has been this way every time we’ve seen Zoe Kazan on stage. For instance, over the last decade there have been a mind-numbing flock of revivals of Anton Chekov’s The Seagull, but among them all, one of the few unforgettable performances was her rendition of Masha in a Broadway production starring Kristin Scott Thomas. We’ve seen Kazan in almost all of her theater roles. And she never disappoints.
Catch her in Love, Love, Love. We promise, you’ll love, love, love her, too.