note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
I don’t know about you but every time I think about 9-ll (which used to be my birthday), I get weak in the knees. If I see news footage of the Towers or Rudy Guiliani (and you will in the Lyric Stage’s THE MERCY SEAT), my stomach drops into my shoes. So it is with great difficulty that I write this review.
Neil LaBute writes unabashedly (one might even say ‘courageously’) nasty plays about man’s worst impulses. You may remember the film “In the Company of Men” where two twenty somethings wreak revenge on all womankind by targeting a deaf woman. Yuck.
LaBute says that with THE MERCY SEAT, he wanted to contrast man’s worst behavior with the extraordinarily kind behavior exhibited after 9-ll. I can’t help thinking he could have hung this play on any hanger, a car accident, a plane crash. THE MERCY SEAT seems to be a morality play with no morals.
Paula Plum and Robert Pemberton are two of Boston’s most compelling actors, Eric Engel, one of our best directors but how can anyone sustain a play about two lovers who seem to despise each other so thoroughly? Why should we care if he leaves his wife or not? He repeats over and over what a boon 9-ll is because he can claim to be one of the victims and start life over. No one suffers (even in the tiny—and I do mean ‘tiny’ twist at play’s end) as they should in a morality play and noone (even the smarmy philanderer) feels any consequences. I guess that’s La Bute’s point. But where was Donald Trump when you needed him, to fire the son-of a-bitch.