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The Hatmaker's Wife

  • Theater, Drama
  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Recommended

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

The Hatmaker's Wife. Peter Jay Sharp Theater (see Off Broadway). By Lauren Yee. Directed by Rachel Chavkin. With Stephanie Wright Thompson, David Margulies, Marcia Jean Kurtz. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.

The Hatmaker's Wife: in brief

Rachel Chavkin directs the premiere of a whimsical play by Lauren Yee. Marcia Jean Kurtz, Stephanie Wright Thompson, Peter Friedman and David Margulies are among the ensemble cast.

The Hatmaker's Wife: theater review by Adam Feldman

If the tatty walls in The Hatmaker’s Wife could talk, what would they say? In Lauren Yee’s rather uneven and very odd new play, this is no mere hypothetical question. A copy editor identified as Voice (Stephanie Wright Thompson) has just moved in with her boyfriend, Gabe (Frank Harts). Soon their new home’s Wall (Megan Byrne) starts talking to her in an Eastern European accent, and dropping typewritten pages that summon the house’s elderly previous inhabitants: a celebrated milliner, Hetchman (David Margulies), and his neglected wife (Marcia Jean Kurtz), whose name he has literally forgotten. (He is far more troubled by the loss of his favorite hat than by his wife’s departure shortly thereafter.) Yee superimposes this plot—rendered in the style of a Jewish folktale, complete with a golem—over that of Voice and Gabe’s tenuous relationship.

There is much to enjoy in the circuitous daring of The Hatmaker’s Wife, which often veers into unexpected places. Director Rachel Chavkin keeps some of the play’s quirkiness in check—underselling, for instance, the deliberate anachronism of Hetchman’s dialogue—with help from savory turns by the marvelous Margulies and Kurtz as the farbissener old-timers. (Peter Friedman is their friendlier neighbor.) Yee’s magical literalism blurs into preciousness, and the convergence of themes at the end feels unsatisfying. But one must admire a play that tries to wear so many hats, even if not all of them fit.—Theater review by Adam Feldman

Follow Adam Feldman on Twitter: @FeldmanAdam

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