God's Ear

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GOOD GRIEF Frazier, left, tries to comfort Kirk.

GOOD GRIEF Frazier, left, tries to comfort Kirk.

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>5/5

Revisiting a show you love is fraught with danger. Will it have changed? Will it—worse news—not have changed? On its glassy, frozen face, Jenny Schwartz’s magnificent God’s Ear looks a great deal like its New Georges incarnation a year ago. Scenes still surface out of Kris Stone’s deep-blue-tiled set like divers out of a lake; almost exactly the same cast measures out Schwartz’s modernist, stunned prose. But somehow Anne Kauffman’s already-effortless production has gotten lighter and lonelier all at once. The sliver of story—a couple (Christina Kirk, Gibson Frazier) mourns a drowned son as the husband refuses to come home—now hangs as weightless and lovely as an icicle, barely dripping with grief.

Schwartz flies the flag for whimsical playwriting (a Tooth Fairy and G.I. Joe drop by) while at the same time displaying a linguistic sophistication with roots in Georges Perec and Gertrude Stein. Just a few scenes into the play, Kirk delivers a plea-turned-aria (“And we’ll face the music. And smell the coffee. And know where to turn. And which end is up.”) constructed entirely from clichés. A devastating tour de force for actor and playwright both, its gravity threatens to swamp the show. But as a woozy barfly, Rebecca Wisocky (the one new cast member) brings us back above the waterline. Wisocky’s bizarro grandeur can overwhelm plays too small to contain her. But here, spilling her guts and her drink on a besotted Frazier, Wisocky shows us how absurd we are when we’re wounded. If God does have an ear out, he’s clearly laughing.

Vineyard Theatre. By Jenny Schwartz. Dir. Anne Kauffman. With ensemble cast. 1hr 35mins. No intermission.

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