Theater Review: "Poor Behavior" At The Mark Taper Forum
The writing of the play is great, though unfortunately, it is not consistently conveyed by the actors. Both Reg Rogers and Christopher Evan Welch are great as Ian and Peter, respectively, but both Johanna Day and Sharon Lawrence's performances leave something to be desired. Day seems to lose her lines at times, obscuring her otherwise honest portrayal of Ella, perhaps the most grounded of all the characters. Lawrence, on the other hand, does not ring true as the histrionic and melodramatic Maureen. Rogers is aggravatingly good as the proficient rhetorician Ian, while Welch's simple depiction of Peter provides a nice foil to the other characters.
As a whole, though, the show is beautifully done. While it's aimed at an audience that is perhaps older than the average college student (and probably married as well), the humor translates to a much wider audience. The situations are real, though exaggerated. Two recurring motifs are muffins and basil, both rather pedestrian foodstuffs, but the fact that they are so banal yet so important really strikes home the possible reality of the situation. However, the exaggeration of real life occasionally goes too far, especially when broad physical comedy becomes a crutch.
The set (by John Lee Beatty) is incredibly charming, like the most perfect country home ever. Likewise, the sound design, by David Van Tieghem, does a very good job of evoking a locale far removed from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. This echoes the rest of the show — it's a nice removal from city life, but ultimately reminds the audience that any and every skeleton in a closet will reappear at the most inopportune time.
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