It doesn’t happen often, but, fair or not, there’s always a little extra pressure put on a play when it comes to New York after having already won the Pulitzer Prize. Quiara Alegría Hudes, a Pulitzer finalist for both Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue and her co-authorship of In The Heights, was awarded top honors last year for Water By The Spoonful, which was commissioned by Hartford Stage, where it premiered in 2011. Shortly after, the recently-opened Off-Broadway mounting was placed on Second Stage’s schedule.
But while the playwright provides some intriguing characters and interesting themes, the evening’s dramatics remain rather tepid, despite the work of an engaging ensemble under director Davis McCallum.
Being the second part of the trilogy that began with …Soldier’s Fugue, we’re once again introduced to Puerto Rican Iraq War vet Elliot (Armando Riesco). Back home in Philadelphia after being honorably discharged for a leg injury, his adjustment to civilian life includes working with his cousin Yaz (Zabryna Guevara) to pay for the funeral of his Aunt Ginny, who raised him from infancy. Yaz is a college music professor with a strong admiration for John Coltrane; a theme-heavy scene has her speaking passionately of the beauty of dissonance in jazz which eventually leads to resolution.
Running parallel to their story are scenes involving an Internet support group for people recovering from crack addiction, run by a woman who goes by the on-line name of Haikumom (Liza Colón-Zayas). Participants include 20-ish Japanese born/American raised Orangutan (Sue Jean Kim) who strikes up a closer friendship with middle-aged Chutes and Ladders (Frankie R. Faison) while discussing her wish to find her biological parents. Though the group members never meet personally and only communicate on line, their dialogue seems too conversational to pass as typewritten chat.
The two worlds eventually connect and the comparisons between Elliot’s physical family and the virtual one created through the Internet carries the main weight of the play, with sidetracks into issues of dependency, wartime trauma and civilian loss providing the dissonance.
Hudes has a talent for dialogue, introspective humor and fresh storytelling ideas, but in the end Water By The Spoonful, a play deeply concerned with communication, doesn’t say very much.
Photo of Liza Colon-Zayas, Sue Jean Kim and Frankie R. Faison by Richard Termine.
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The grosses are out for the week ending 1/13/2013 and we've got them all right here in BroadwayWorld.com's grosses section.
Up for the week was: PICNIC (26.6%), GOLDEN BOY (12.5%), CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (10.3%), ONCE (8.5%), THE HEIRESS (6.5%), The Other Place (6.3%), WHO'S AFRAID OF Virginia Woolf? (4.7%), GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS (0.7%), THE BOOK OF MORMON(0.1%),
Down for the week was: MARY POPPINS (-32.7%), ANNIE (-29.2%), CHICAGO (-26.0%), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (-19.2%), MAMMA MIA! (-18.9%), EVITA (-17.8%), JERSEY BOYS (-13.8%), NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (-9.9%), SPIDER-MAN TURN OFF THE DARK (-9.3%), NEWSIES (-7.3%), WICKED (-5.7%), THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (-5.4%), ROCK OF AGES (-4.6%), PETER AND THE STARCATCHER (-4.2%), THE LION KING (-1.8%),