By David Walters
It’s not often you will get an opportunity to see a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, with almost the full cast (except one) in residence (director Austin Pendleton included), years later after its original run. Well, this is it, your opportunity has arrived!
Between Riverside and Crazy, by Stephen Adly Guirgis, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play, the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Play, and the Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best New Play, all in 2015. A very good year for that play.
It is now playing for a short run on Broadway at The Hayes Theater, courtesy of Second Stage. Although a show may have closed (seven years ago) a role stays within a stage actor due to the repetition, mellows and ages, smooths out its edges, grounds itself further, and takes on the changing times to become a deeper richer form of its previous self. Almost like a crock-pot, it slowly warms and melds the different ingredients to form its new unique thing upon uncovering. It’s not often that a chance for a reprise comes along and a past, long-melded performance gets a chance at new light. That new light centers around the well-grounded Stephen McKinley Henderson (as Pops) who helms an ensemble of lying (to themselves and each other) misfits that still can charm an audience years later with their depiction of flawed humanity in all its glory.
It’s a New York story, which means it’s a race thing. Here it is quickly: Pops, a beat cop, was shot by a white cop eight years ago while off duty and he didn’t take the monetary settlement from the city, continually fighting it year after year to get more. It’s come to the point now where the city is fed up and wants to either settle or crush Pops (evict him and everyone else currently living in his apartment). It all comes to a head with his ex-partner from the force, his ex-inmate son and his girlfriend, an ex-inmate friend of his son trying to stay clean, and a church lady (played with a quiet powerfulness by Liza Colon-Zayas). It’s full of lies, spite, selfishness, pain, sorrow, greed, avarice, and charm. So of course, you will laugh, be aghast at the behavior and the truths revealed, and possibly give a standing ovation as we are each of us, all that stuff to varying degrees. Isn’t humanity wonderful!
Two hours including intermission.
At the Hayes Theater, 240 West 44th Street, New York, NY, 10036,
Closes February 12, 2023
By: Stephen Adly Guirgis
Producer: Second Stage Theater, tix here
Director: Austin Pendleton
Cast list: Stephen McKinley Henderson (as Pops), Common (as Junior), Rosal Colón (as Lulu), Victor Almanzar (as Oswaldo), Elizabeth Canavan (as Detective Audry O’Connor), Liza Colón-Zayas (as Church Lady), Michael Rispoli (as Lieutenant Caro)
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.