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The Portuguese Kid

  • Theater, Comedy
  • 2 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Theater review by Adam Feldman

All you reallly need to know about The Portuguese Kid is this: The script is literally written in Comic Sans. John Patrick Shanley’s strained, hoary sex comedy stars Jason Alexander as Barry, a schlubby Rhode Island lawyer, and Sherie Rene Scott as Atalanta, a tempestuous client who—more or less inexplicably—has long harbored the hots for him. Both, however, are romantically involved with gold diggers half their age: he with the obliging Patty (Aimee Carrero), she with the dim Freddie (Pico Alexander), who writes poems about her butt and boobs. Will the sparring older couple finally connect? Will the vapid young’uns? It’s like Ingmar Bergman’s Smiles of a Summer Night, if the smiles were forced wacky grins.

Manhattan Theatre Club seems to have cut a Faustian deal with Shanley: In exchange for good plays like Doubt and Prodigal Son, the company occasionally lets him flush his system of dross, like 2008’s dreadful Romantic Poetry and now this. Amid the stale trashiness are salvageable morsels: a few decent jokes in the first scene, a neat revolving set by John Lee Beatty, a choice performance by Mary Testa—the best comic gorgon in the business—as Barry’s meddling mother. But The Portuguese Kid’s ideas about passion and gender are shot through with retrograde banality. “I’m a paradox,” says Atalanta. “I’m a woman." It’s 2017. Whom does a play like this think it's kidding?

Manhattan Theatre Club (Off Broadway). By John Patrick Shanley. Directed by Shanley. With Jason Alexander, Sherie Rene Scott. Running time: 1hr 40mins. No intermission. Through Dec 3.

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Adam Feldman
Written by
Adam Feldman


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