The Correspondent. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater (see Off Broadway). By Ken Urban. Directed by Stephen Brackett. With Thomas Jay Ryan, Heather Alicia Simms. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
The Correspondent: In brief
A widower begins receiving letters that may be from beyond the grave in Ken Urban's drama, directed by Stephen Brackett (Buyer & Cellar) and starring the understated (and undersung) Thomas Jay Ryan.
The Correspondent: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Mirabel (Simms) is not a medium, but a messenger: Near death herself, she promises to deliver communiqués to the deceased, when she gets to heaven, from grieving loved ones back on earth. It seems an obvious grift, but Philip (the masterfully blank-faced Ryan) is desperate: Holed up in an upscale Boston apartment, he is consumed with guilt over his wife’s death in a car accident, and has more than enough money to spend on long shots. Handwritten letters from his late spouse soon arrive at his door, full of details only she could know. Who or what is behind this ghost writing?
It would be wrong to reveal much more about the zigzag of Ken Urban’s The Correspondent, a sharp new play with roots in works of supernatural realism (like Prelude to a Kiss) as well as suspense thrillers (like Deathtrap) and tales of possible spiritualist fraud (like David Mamet’s The Shawl). Stephen Brackett’s stylish staging, enriched by Eric Southern’s lighting and Daniel Kluger’s sound, keeps the atmosphere thick through various twists of plot (including an explicit sex scene); and the cast, which includes Jordan Geiger as an enigmatic young man, helps ward off potential silliness. If the play barrels on as though it had nothing to lose, that seems apt: All’s fair in love and death.—Theater review by Adam Feldman
THE BOTTOM LINE Urban offers a stormy look at desire beyond the grave.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam
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