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NY Theater Reviews

Jason Kravits and Danny Hoch in Talking Cure/ Ph: Joan Marcus

RELATIVELY AWFUL

By MATT WINDMAN

How did such respected authors and directors come to put together such a bad triple-bill?

How is it possible for three people that have excelled so thoroughly as authors and directors of both stage and film to be responsible for a project as thoroughly awful as this? Will wonders never cease?

Asked to describe the merits of his new one-act comedy, Woody Allen told The New York Times that it has no “redeeming social value” or “entertainment value” and that he wrote it “only to take out my new paper shredder.”

While it’s true that Allen’s one-act is not very good, it is considerably better than the ones written by Ethan Coen and Elaine May that also comprise Relatively Speaking, a most dreadful and appalling triple-bill of comedy sketches directed by John Turturro with a pretty strange cast that includes Marlo Thomas and Steve Guttenberg. (Fred Melamed dropped out during previews, and it’s not hard to imagine why.)

The 15-minute curtain raiser Talking Cure, written by Coen, observes a psychiatrist (Jason Kravits) trying in vain to break through to a belligerent patient (Danny Hoch) and ends with a scene depicting the patient’s parents (Katherine Borowitz and Allen Lewis Rickman), as if to explain how he became so confrontational. It is absolutely pointless and full of empty banter.

After a four-minute break, the show continues with May’s George Is Dead, in which a pampered, childish socialite (Thomas) shows up at the apartment of the daughter of her childhood nanny with the news that her husband has died, unsure of what to do next. Thomas tries her best to play it up, but the piece is repetitive and irritating.

In Allen’s Honeymoon Hotel, the giddy father of the groom (Gutenberg) has run off with his stepson’s fiancée (Ari Graynor) on the day of the wedding, causing the rest of the family to show up at their honeymoon suite in an uproar. It works well enough as an old-fashioned, silly farce, but is hardly worthy of being done on Broadway.