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Ode to Joy

  • Theater, Drama
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Ode to Joy. Cherry Lane Theatre (see Off Broadway). Written and directed by Craig Lucas. With Kathryn Erbe, Arliss Howard, Roxanna Hope. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission.

Ode to Joy: In brief

Writer-director Craig Lucas (Prelude to a Kiss) shakes up the Rattlestick with a portrait of a bisexual painter (Law & Order: Criminal Intent's Kathryn Erbe) and her two lovers (Arliss Howard and Roxanna Hope).

Ode to Joy: Theater review by David Cote

The first vocal act in Ode to Joy, a fevered chronicle of addiction and recovery, is a yowl of pain. Painter Adele (Erbe) raises her arm to daub a canvas and screams in agony from some affliction. “This is the story of how the pain goes away,” she solemnly informs us. Settle in, folks; there will be plenty more howling before the night is over.

Writer-director Craig Lucas tracks Adele over 14 years and two rocky affairs—one with a hard-partying surgeon (Howard), the other with an executive with a bad ticker (Hope). Each of her lovers has flaws, but Adele is the most damaged, with a drug and alcohol dependency we slowly discover during the course of the play.

There’s impassioned acting all around (despite a too-prim Erbe) and Lucas stages his script with fluid, fourth-wall-tweaking élan. But his second act is crammed with late-arriving personal tragedy and rehashed New Age nostrums, and any catharsis seems aimed at the auteur rather than most casual tipplers.—Theater review by David Cote

THE BOTTOM LINE: This boozer melodrama should stay in rehab.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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