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Inspired by 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?', this new production from Slightly Altered States is absurd, emotionally acute, Python-esque, brilliantly acted, and ultimately incomprehensible.

Theater Review (NYC): ‘Mr. Landing Takes a Fall’ by Sari Caine

Adam LeFevre, Kathryn Rossetter, Sari Caine and David Rigo in 'Mr. Landing Takes a Fall.' Photo by Eric Carter
Adam LeFevre, Kathryn Rossetter, Sari Caine and David Rigo in ‘Mr. Landing Takes a Fall.’ Photo by Eric Carter

Absurd, emotionally acute, Python-esque, brilliantly acted, and ultimately incomprehensible, Sari Caine’s Mr. Landing Takes a Fall is a thorny amalgam of pleasure and frustration.

Described by the playwright as a riff on Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Mr. Landing Takes a Fall gives us a bickering, loving, and bickering-loving old couple, Mr. and Mrs. Landing. Played with depth and off-the-rails humor by Broadway veterans Adam LeFevre (Our Country’s Good, Mamma Mia!) and Kathryn Rosseter (Death of a Salesman), they have lived in a small nondescript house with extremely dated furnishings for, so they say, 500 years.

The fantasy trope of the immortals is stirred up by the arrival of a young couple, Cynthia (Caine) and Michael (David Rigo), apparent newlyweds who turn up at the Landings’ in full bride-and-groom regalia in response to a real estate listing Mrs. Landing has published unbeknownst to her alcoholic husband. Mrs. L’s actual motivation for putting the house on the market, along with Cynthia and Michael’s real situation and indeed the full personalities of all four characters are only gradually revealed as the evening veers from a twisted sort of hospitality into sexual aggression, general chaos, and violence.

A full-page Playwright’s Note in tiny print in the program not only fails to explain what the play is about but is by its very length a strong hint that, as Gertrude Stein might have put it, “there’s no there there.” After an hour and a quarter of madcap moments and comic surprises framed by evocative poetics and sharpened into affecting revelations, all dexterously directed by Sherri Eden Barber (Inadmissible), who is a master of the use of tight spaces, the play in the end left me bewildered, and with a grating feeling that that wasn’t the intention.

Mr. Landing Takes a Fall produced by Slightly Altered States runs at the Flea Theater through October 4, 2014.

About the Author

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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