Things We Want

NEIGHBORLY LOVE Kazan and Dano meet cutesy.

NEIGHBORLY LOVE Kazan and Dano meet cutesy. Photograph: Carol Rosegg

Time Out Ratings :

<strong>Rating: </strong>2/5

Lots of things go out the window in Jonathan Marc Sherman’s precious Things We Want: in Act I, a T-shirt; in Act II, a videocassette; prior to the play, a father and mother; and in Sherman’s plot and dialogue, nearly all believability. As the play begins, Charlie (Little Miss Sunshine’s Dano)—whose broken heart has led him to drop out of culinary school—returns home to the slightly run-down tenth-floor apartment he shares with his two older brothers, the decrepit, alcoholic Sty (Dinklage) and the determinedly positive-minded Teddy (Hamilton). Stung by their parents’ successive suicides years ago, the three find solace differently. Sty drinks himself unconscious; Teddy follows a self-help charlatan; and Charlie seeks comfort at the breast of their neighbor Stella (Kazan), a pianist with a crippled right hand who wears a plaid schoolgirl skirt every year on her birthday. (She’s quirky!) These situations are dutifully reversed after intermission. Directed in a languorous vein by Ethan Hawke, the actors all wind up speaking in the same stiff, artificial cadences. (Stella, suggesting that she and Charlie get divorced before marriage—did I mention she’s quirky?—calls her plan “a realistic alternative in this time of rampantly unsuccessful legally binding romantic unions.”) Audiences who do not possess a towering tolerance for self-conscious badinage will surely find this New Group production wanting.

—Adam Feldman

New Group @ Theater Row. By Jonathan Marc Sherman. Dir. Ethan Hawke. With Paul Dano, Josh Hamilton, Peter Dinklage, Zoe Kazan. 2hrs. One intermission.