Friday, April 12, 2024

Nathan Lane, Other Actors Tortured in Simply Awful, Torturous “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus”


I don’t blame Nathan Lane. He’s a comic giant, along with Kristine Nielsen and Julie White. They are the best actors Broadway can summon. But Taylor Mac’s “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus” is utter crap. They are tortured on stage by a playwright who’s given them some of the worst material I’ve ever seen on a stage, Broadway or otherwise.

Do not trust the NY Times review except for one line: he doesn’t know if “Gary” will last a month. I do. It won’t. The audience fled from the performance I saw. If there had been an intermission for this 90 minute play, no one would have returned.

No one likes “Titus Andronicus.” It’s not a play that needs a sequel of any kind. Of all Shakespeare’s plays, you’d be best off to just leave it alone. But this Taylor Mac won’t do that. He thinks it’s funny that after the big battle at the end of the play, the curtain would rise on a mound of dead warriors (made from puppets) with flapping penises. Enter Nathan Lane as a former clown who is now a maid assigned to clean up the mess. Kristine Nielsen, who I adore, is already there. She’s in charge. For about ten minutes they do some shtick, they’re very funny, and you calm down. This may work out.

Nielsen is teaching Lane, who sports a Harpo Marx horn with a big red ball he can squeeze, how to remove the gas and feces from the dead bodies. That’s funny, very briefly. But then what? What is the point of this play? No one knows or cares about “Titus Andronicus.” And soon the pair are talking about absolutely nothing. Nothing. All the mugging and carrying on will not save them. Not even Julie White, who appears at midpoint, and distracts from the main problem: there is no play.

Nathan Lane has soared on Broadway. In “It’s Only a Play,” I was crying for laughing. Nielsen was a genius in “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.” Genius. Julie White can do no wrong. I felt for them on the stage at the Walter Kerr. There is just nowhere to go except in the abyss. If only they could remain on that stage and do something else. Anything else. Please. Just talk to the audience. We’d understand.

The author, Taylor Mac, has won a MacArthur Genius Grant, which puts that whole enterprise into question. He’s also won a Doris Duke Award, which I assume is named for the late, completely crazy heiress who used to give birthday parties on her front lawn for her llama. Now that would have made a great scene in “Gary.”

Want to see real play on Broadway? See “The Ferryman.”



Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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