Theater: “Epiphany” at LCT
If and when you see “Epiphany,” Brian Watkins’ new dramedy at Lincoln Center, please be advised you are going to feel somewhat uncomfortable. But good theater, I believe, should make you think and provoke you. Somewhat, anyway.
This isn’t what the 10 guests at a dinner party must be feeling, however, when they show up on a dark and stormy night in suburban New York to celebrate Epiphany (although no one seems to be sure what the holiday’s about. Huh?) Morken, the hostess (Mary Louise Burke), promises her nephew Gabriel, the guest of honor, whom everybody seems to know, will show up and say a few words. An hour into the evening, we learn Gabriel can’t make it. Oops.
The guests are a bit a-sea at this point. They haven’t read the details of the email invite (“it was in the attachment!” Morken says) so they don’t know that they’re supposed to have memorized a particular song for the occasion, or bring a poem, or dance after dinner. Nobody can call Uber (Morken has impounded their phones.) So they start drinking and talking. And talking some more.
What’s the playwright’s agenda here? To make us feel as embarrassed as the guests? Something more profound? Open to debate. What cannot be disputed, however, is the brilliance of Mary Louise Burke. Released from the confines of being just another featured player, she comes into her own as a star—a comic and dramatic genius who pulls it all together, and reveals at the end of the play the real point of the party.
With Heather Burns as an inebriated guest who plays the piano with her elbows; Jonathan Hadary who accidentally stabs himself with a carving knife; and Carmen Zillow as a goddess-like creature who announces she has studied at the Sorbonne. Noted.
On balance, I liked “Epiphany” because as ridiculous as it seemed at times, it made me uncomfortable and made me think. Somewhat. Should that not be your jam, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a very funny and much more direct play, is two stops away on the IRT local.