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Theater Review (NYC): ‘Where’s My Money?’ by John Patrick Shanley

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The well-known playwright and screenwriter John Patrick Shanley (Savage in Limbo, Moonstruck, Doubt) has many lesser-known works in his canon, and the brand-new Animus Theatre Company has revived a decade-old example in a spirited and well-played production at the Cherry Lane. In the savagely witty ghost comedy Where’s My Money? elements of horror punctuate a clamorous story of characters desperately searching, not so much for anything so ambitious as love, but simply for a place where they might feel like they belong. “I don’t want to live an idea instead of a life.”

Nonetheless, marriage is the murky medium through which the characters battle one another and themselves, especially the marriage of divorce lawyer Henry (an acidic Jonathan Judge-Russo) and frustrated accountant Natalie (a very winning Amy Northup). Theirs is clearly a terrible marriage, so much so that a late note of hope for it induces a wince of disbelief even as it gives you a small warm feeling. Henry is so sarcastic and emotionally cold that it’s a little hard to understand why Natalie married him, especially after the tongue-lashing she gives her old co-worker Celeste for allowing a brutish married man to dominate her.

But as the play progresses it becomes clear that these characters aren’t meant to be real people, in spite of Shanley’s characteristically superb, psychologically authentic dialogue. They’re totems, emblems of the eternal messes we humans make of our lives. Likewise, the ghosts are here to remind us that “The past – is real” (as one character declares when told “This thing is in the past.”)

Jeff Tedesco is brute force personified as Sidney, Henry’s legal idol and a man who professes to have all the answers, for example, that since everyone cheats, a man’s duty is to be the first one to do so. Sidney turns out to be just as much at a loss as anyone when his wife Marcia Marie (the intense Carrie Walsh in a frightening turn) confronts him with his own rather titanic failures as a husband.

Often very funny, sustained by consistently riveting dialogue, Where’s My Money? as directed by Alex Correia (assistant director to Andrei Belgrader in the recent Cherry Orchard at Classic Stage) fulfills the cliche of thrills and chills. Nods are due the effective sound and lighting (Toby Algya and Jimmy Lawlor respectively) and the low-key but very adaptable and convincing set by Joseph Croghan. This highly recommended smashing debut for Animus runs through Feb. 12 at the Cherry Lane.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is an Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Culture, where he reviews NYC theater; he also covers interesting music releases. He writes the blog Park Odyssey, for which he is visiting and blogging every park in New York City—over a thousand of them. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. By night he's a working musician: lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado, a member of other bands as well, and a sideman.
  • Mountain dew

    I saw the show this past weekend and while I thought the technical elements were really stellar, what lacked was the direction by Alex Correia

  • Tom

    Good Acting Bad Set

  • mike s

    Solid show all around. Solid acting. Great lights. Alex Correia’s Direction was really good. Especially loved the guy that played the 2nd lawyer. love costumes and sound. The set seemed unfinished