Round Up – Three “Very Good” + Our First Unqualified Rave

DC Theatrescene came in very good, but short of great as the reviewer didn’t travel as well with the last two/three scenes of the play (many in the audience don’t agree; some do). But the great parts of the review do sing through:

“Karl Miller is wonderfully skilled at making dialogue sound like ad lib, and his touching, graceful treatment of an off-kilter character – sometimes brash and chummy, sometimes cripplingly nervous – is the primary reason to see the show.

Artists tend to fall into two schools: those who bring raging passion and a bucket of ideas, and those who bring methodical focus and a single pen. While David paints Pollock as he speaks, Dan is more of a verbal Seurat, and his precision is seductive. Dan Crane does a smart job as Ben, and if he seems a bit stiffer than Miller, it’s because Benjamin is precisely that friend we all know and remember – mysterious, unflappable, and quite possibly unknowable. As the object of a fellow writer’s fixation he is one with his success, the romanticized figure who can make great art happen because… why not? ‘You have remarkable self possession,’ David sighs. ‘I have a hard time doing things – believing that they’re real, or that they mean anything – if no one’s watching. You don’t have that problem.’

Ben smiles, but his answer doesn’t comfort. ‘You’re going to be fine,’ he says. ‘You’re going to be just fine.’”

Even more jaunty, is the City Paper write up:

“Envy… she can be a powerful muse. Green-eyed case in point: The Four of Us, Itamar Moses’ witty, engaging (if slightly overlong) two-character play about the 10-year friendship between a young novelist and a young playwright. Karl Miller is the sardonic, self-doubting playwright who struggles with the sudden and outrageously lucrative success of his friend’s first novel. Happily, it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch an actor as naturalistic and unself-conscious as Miller do the requisite struggling.”

The show runs 1 hour 43 minutes, but somehow City Paper winds up concluding, “When the night is over, you may find yourself wondering if that final scene did all the work Moses asked of it. You may also come away convinced, as I did, that inside the very good 2-hour play you just saw lies a truly great 90-minute play.”

Well, let’s split the difference – it’s not 90, it’s 103, but that difference seems to account for a lot–the difference between very good and truly great–let’s call it simply, terrific. Which it is.

And so seems to think longtime WJW critic, Lisa Traiger. She writes:

“The evening, smartly directed by Daniel DeRaey, borrows a page from musical theater master Stephen Sondheim’s least successful show, Merrily We Roll Along, replaying the friendship from the end back to the beginning.

For the most part, Moses, who draws many laughs in the opening scenes between sly and bawdy jokes, wry sarcasm and witty repartee, achieves what Sondheim couldn’t in his backward take: a bittersweet reverie on male friendship that reaches far beyond cliched buddy movie adventures that most typically depict male friendships, at least in America. Instead, The Four of Us deals with real-life emotions and cuts close to the bone when the relationship begins to unravel quietly, but not uneventfully.

In Moses’ eyes, setting things right between the young men means returning them to where they started and that journey. That, too, proves telling and engaging, particularly in the hands of a pair of fine actors ‹ Dan Crane, as Benjamin, the novelist with the know-it-all streak, and Karl Miller, as David, the more neurotic, self-doubting playwright. The two play easily off one another in dialogue that has a rhythmic inflection and musicality to its often fast pace.”

Read the rest of the Washington Jewish Week review here.