A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City
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A Funny Thing Happened…: Theater review by Adam Feldman
Well, the title is funny. It is hard to know what else to make of Halley Feiffer’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecologic Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center of New York City, a play ravaged by central miscasting. Beth Behrs plays Karla, an edgy young stand-up comedian with daddy issues; Erik Lochtefeld is Don, a depressed middle-aged millionaire with child issues. They meet at the hospital where their mothers—Marcie (a lacerating Lisa Emery) and Geena (Jacqueline Sydney)—are fighting cancer. As they open up to each other, using humor to cope with grief, their healing sexual chemistry kicks in.
That is what’s supposed to happen, at least. There is good writing in the play, and one can only wonder how it might work with a different actor (such as Feiffer herself) in the lead role. But 2 Broke Girls star Behrs, in her stage debut, can’t put the smart, sympathetic Karla across; she freezes into an open-mouthed grimace, sneering and annoyed, as though mocking her character rather than playing her. It’s an obnoxious, exhausting performance. Loaded with jokes about death and rape, the play aims for very dark comedy but gets no farther than dim.—Adam Feldman
Lucille Lortel Theatre (Off Broadway). By Halley Feiffer. Directed by Trip Cullman. With Beth Behrs, Erik Lochtefeld, Lisa Emery. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission.
Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam