Thursday , February 22 2024
Annette O'Toole, Ian Gould, Theatre at St. Clement's, George Kelly, Dan Wackerman
Annette O'Toole, Ian Gould in 'The Show-Off,' Theatre at St. Clement's (Jeremy Daniel)

Theater Review (NYC): ‘The Show-Off’ by George Kelly

The Show-Off, Theatre at St. Clement's, Dan Wackerman, Emma Orelove
(L to R): Annette O’Toole, Emma Orelove, Ian Gould in ‘The Show-Off,’ Theatre at St. Clement’s, (Jeremy Daniel)

Producers revived George Kelly’s The Show-Off (1924) in 1967. Then, the Broadway production starred icon Helen Hayes as the matriarch of the Fisher family.  Clearly, one can imagine her delivery of the in-your-face insults shot at her daughter’s “puffed up” husband, Aubrey. Again revived in 1992, and currently in revival at Theater at St. Clement’s, Kelly’s humor attracts. Perhaps, this is because we all despise “show-offs” like Aubrey Piper.

Indeed, the present times disfavor such behavior on Social Media accounts of celebrities and former reality stars. Thus, humility, apologies and truthfulness remain praiseworthy. When boastful individuals clearly lie and defraud, we mock them. As is inevitable a bragging, gasbag character cannot be acceptable. Thus, how a playwright and director balance our distaste for a blowhard throughout three acts requires skill. Kelly’s writing shows skill. Director Dan Wackerman reveals a sensitivity to this problem.

However, astute acting handles the potential issues of our annoyance. Because braggarts must be brought to account, we hunger for their comeuppance. Indeed, humorous insults directed at them relieves us. Moreover, we remain in suspense to hear every barb, every ironic comment directed their way.

Through the clever irony and sarcasm of a vital character we admire (Mother Fisher), we are able to put up with show-off Aubrey Piper. Indeed, casting the irrepressible Annette O’Toole seems enlightened. Certainly, as Mrs. Fisher, Piper’s electric cow prod, OToole propels the production. Thankfully, her feisty performance stirs the pot of laughter and moves the character dynamic toward conclusion. And what of blowhard (Ian Gould), and his sweet, unsuspecting wife Amy (Emma Orelove)? These actor portrayals meld with O’Toole’s and the rest of the ensemble. Also, Clara (Elise Hudson), as Amy’s knowing, caring sister deserves mention for her poignant portrait of an unloved wife.

Additionally, the costumes, sets, lighting, staging enhance our understanding of the time period along with Mrs. Fisher’s raw ethnic slurs, current for the time (1920s). Kudos to the creative team of designers who brought these elements of theater spectacle into unity with the arc of the play’s development.

The Show-Off, currently at Theatre at St. Clement’s (423 West 46 Street), runs until 21 October.

About Carole Di Tosti

Carole Di Tosti, Ph.D. is a published writer, playwright, novelist, poet. She owns and manages three well-established blogs: 'The Fat and the Skinny,' 'All Along the NYC Skyline' ( 'A Christian Apologists' Sonnets.' She also manages the newly established 'Carole Di Tosti's Linchpin,' which is devoted to foreign theater reviews and guest reviews. She contributed articles to Technorati (310) on various trending topics from 2011-2013. To Blogcritics she has contributed 583+ reviews, interviews on films and theater predominately. Carole Di Tosti also has reviewed NYBG exhibits and wine events. She guest writes for 'Theater Pizzazz' and has contributed to 'T2Chronicles,' 'NY Theatre Wire' and other online publications. She covers NYC trending events and writes articles promoting advocacy. She professionally free-lanced for TMR and VERVE for 1 1/2 years. She was a former English Instructor. Her published dissertation is referenced in three books, two by Margo Ely, Ph.D. Her novel 'Peregrine: The Ceremony of Powers' will be on sale in January 2021. Her full length plays, 'Edgar,' 'The Painter on His Way to Work,' and 'Pandemics or How Maria Caught Her Vibe' are being submitted for representation and production.

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