Jonathan Todd Ross, Josh Clayton, and Jolie Curtsinger. Photo by Lisa Soverino
BOTTOM LINE: Great performances and production values in a play that doesn't quite measure up to the level of talent from an exceptionally strong group of actors.
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, go see InProximity Theatre Company's production of Nicky Silver's The Maiden's Prayer. I was really excited to see a young theatre company tackle a play by one of my favorite playwrights. Nicky Silver has won a ton of awards, incuding four Outer Critic's Circle Awards...his plays are taught at universities throughout the country...and he is one of my favorite playwrights. His plays are funny, thought provoking, sometimes painful, and constantly push the envelope. That being said, this is not one of my favorite of Mr. Silver's plays. But this production is still a very enjoyable night at the theatre filled with five very solid performances.
The Maiden's Prayer opens with a the wedding of Taylor (Josh Clayton) and Cynthia (Laurie Schaefer). Taylor's best friend, Paul (Jonathan Todd Ross), meets Cynthia's free spirited sister Libby (Jolie Curtsinger) and they discover that they both have been in love with the groom and now must learn to live their lives without him. Paul and Libby develop an interesting friendship as their lives veer drastically from the future they had imagined for themselves while Taylor and Cynthia deal with the complications of a tragedy in their first year of marriage. Throw in a neurotic one night stand (Ari Rossen) who moves himself into Paul's bathtub and you have the makings for a witty examination of what it really means to love someone versus simply needing them to survive.
I think that everything that Inproximity Theatre Company brought to this production kicked some serious ass. The actors were great. The direction was right on point. The set design by James J. Fenton is quite possibly the best set that I ever seen in an off-off-Broadway production. I just wish that the material was a little stronger. It's a good play, but a safe play. It's evident from Inproximity's first production of Orange Flower Water last spring that they are an exciting young theatre company that really strives to do thought-provoking work, and I wish they had done just a little more with this production in that capacity. I know that I am being a little hard on the play itself. Nicky Silver's Pterodactyls is one of my favorite plays, and The Maiden's Prayer just doesn't measure up.
Again, it's a good play, but the actors and all of the production staff have the goods to produce a great play. If you are looking for some really great performances and extraordinary production values go see The Maiden's Prayer. If you are fan of Nicky Silver, still go see this play for all the reasons mentioned above, just don't expect the same level of literary genius as in his other work. All and all The Maiden's Prayer would be a wonderful way to spend your weekend. I'm very excited about the caliber of work that this young theatre company is producing and I look forward to seeing what they bring to the table next.
(The Maiden's Prayer runs through October 18 th at Theatre 54 at Shetler Studios, 244 W 54 th (12th Floor). Perfromaces are Friday and Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 2PM. The show runs about two hours with one ten minute intermission. Tickets are $18. For tickets call 212.868.4444 or visit www.SmartTix.com For more information visit www.InProximityTheatre.org.)