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  • Theater, Drama
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Phoenix. Cherry Lane Theatre (see Off Broadway). By Scott Organ. Directed by Jennifer DeLia. With Julia Stiles, James Wirt. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.

Phoenix: In brief

Julia Stiles, whose résumé includes major NYC productions of Twelfth Night and Oleanna, returns to the stage in a revival of Scott Organ's 2010 romantic dark comedy about the aftershocks of a one-night stand. James Wirt costars, and Jennifer DeLia directs.

Phoenix: Theater review by David Cote

Arizona has been the origin of so much recent ugliness and stupidity—racist and homophobic laws, a Crypt Keeper governor—it’s beginning to rival Florida as a punch line. But let’s give the Grand Canyon State a pass on Phoenix. Scott Organ’s facile two-hander—shown to extremely poor effect in a production that’s garish, limply directed and stiffly acted—has only itself to blame. Clearly somone thought it was a fine idea to revive a rom-com done in 2010 Off-Off Broadway as a vehicle for Julia Stiles and James Wirt.

You will know the former for her angelic prettiness and, ahem, low-key acting style. The latter? His bio mentions copious school credits and—aha!—an upcoming film with Stiles. Must have been a great experience, because here they are, playing Sue and Bruce. A drunken hookup four weeks prior has left Sue knocked up and Bruce smitten. She wants to terminate the pregnancy in Phoenix, and he wheedles his way into the trip. After more cute banter and fun between the sheets, will Sue proceed with the abortion? Will Bruce win her heart? Will we ever find out what he does for a living?

Organ can write touching dialogue, but wooden delivery and tone-deaf direction obscures it. Possibly worst is Caite Hevner Kemp’s appalling set design, which prominently features a series of paintings. To my eye, they are collaged images of U.S. highways, spermatozoa and the stars’ headshots. That’s basically all you need to know about Phoenix—that, and how to get the hell out.—Theater review by David Cote

THE BOTTOM LINE Julia Stiles travels far and wide to avoid love.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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