Saw the play Red Light Winter the other night at the Barrow Street Theater, which recently scored successes with Orson's Shadow and Bug. The play was the first I've seen by Adam Rapp, whose star is apparently rising: Not only has he joined the writing team for Showtime's "The L Word," but his first big movie (writer/director) is coming out in limited release next week: Winter Passing, starring the ever lovely Zooey Deschanel and a crotchety-looking Ed Harris, not to mention Will Farrell. (Will be interesting to see what kind of character they've cast him as, and whether it works.)
But back to the play: It had a well-received, and much cheaper, run in Chicago, before moving here with cast intact. Kind of reminded me of Manuscript, which played at the Daryl Roth last year, in that it involves a girl, two Ivy League guy friends, the general motif of writing, and a lot of funny intellectual banter. And while Red Light does strain belief at times, it seems more plausible in the end, even when the emerging-playwright character discusses the Amsterdam-based events of the first act during the second as he's writing about them in his squalid East Village apartment. The admission by this character -- a nerdy guy sans glasses, perpetually cowering in the shadow of his alpha-male "friend" -- that he doesn't know how to end the play he's writing comes true in a way, for the ending is not entirely satisfying. But it's one of those endings that, if successful, proves whether you've actually come to care about the trio during the course of the action (with the requisite emphasis on action), and also provides fodder for more post-curtain discussion. Too bad I saw it by myself.
Still, the best thing I've seen since Sweeney Todd. Official opening is tonight.
UPDATE: Isherwood's review is in. He's generally positive and waxes poetic about the central playwright character for most of the piece, before admitting the show's faults toward the end. Still, I've read much worse.