BOTTOM LINE: The thinking man's (or woman's) musical theatre.
During the intermission of Improbable Frequency the lady sitting in front of me turned to her companion and said, "You really have to concentrate on this one." That is somewhat of an understatement. Set in and around Dublin during WWII, the story weaves its way in and around the connections of a eclectic mix of characters, all of whom sing, mug, shimmy, dance, vogue, and speak in verse.
What I loved most about this play was the obvious craftwork that went into creating it. All the dialogue is in verse, the songs are catchy and are all quite distinctive, the set, lighting and costumes were all time and place perfect. There was not a detail left unattended to, and that includes the cast – a fantastic group of talented actors who play a range of characters with great aplomb. The entire enterprise felt like a finely tuned Cadillac purring at an auto show. It successfully merges many genres, often feeling more like a movie than a play. There is political tension mixed with farce, romanticism and a touch of film noir...something for everyone.
My only criticism is that the play may be too smart for its own good. At some point in the middle of Act II, I sort of got lost in the labyrinth and never really found my way out. At a two and a half hour running time, perhaps a few of the extraneous off shoots of the main plot could be sacrificed for time.
But that really is a minor quibble when compared to the amount of fun this play really is. And now that I think about it, maybe the woman in front of me was concentrating too hard. Maybe the whole point of the Improbable Frequency is that it is, in fact, improbable, and the harder you try to keep everything linear and wrap your brain around all the connections and interconnections, all the more improbable it becomes. Maybe the point is to just sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
(Improbably Frequency plays through January 4th at 59E59 Theaters, 59 E. 59th Street between Park and Madison. Show times are Tuesday at 7pm, Wednesday at 2pm and 8pm, Thursday and Friday at 8pm, Saturday at 2pm and 8pm and Sunday at 3pm. Holiday schedule: December 24th at 2pm, December 25th at 6pm only. Tickets are $60...to purchase visit ticketcentral.com. Visit 59E59.org for more info.)