note: entire contents copyright 2000 by Beverly Creasey
"Taller than A Dwarf" is in Boston for its tryout before moving to Broadway at the end of the month. Whatever it is they're trying out isn't working yet. Elaine May's script is at present a tangle of knots and snarls. It's even difficult to tell what the play is about --- but since it stars Matthew Broderick one might call it "Ferris Beuler's Day Off from Work." Ferris is older now, in his 30s, and he's tired of the rat race, so he does the singing equivalent of screaming "I'm mad as hell and I won't take it anymore": he stays in bed crooning "Nobody Knows The trouble I've Seen." All his relatives, the building super, and his boss descent upon him (in bed), and for no reason whatsoever they all proclaim him "the messiah". Broderick then spouts a lot of unfunny Jesus jokes.
Then May's tangled ball of yarn rewinds, and we go back to the malaise of the beginning. Then Broderick tells wife Parker Posey he's gonna sue everyone. May's point is incomprehensible, and Alan Arkin's direction is scattershot. Fabulous actors like the brilliant comic Mike McShane and the hilarious Joyce Van Patten have nothing to do. May sets up a potential screwball situation, with everyone crowded into the tiny apartment at once, but instead of farce there are gaping silences, tempting one to say that "Taller than A Dwarf" is deader than a doornail. Sorry New York. Maybe it can be fixed. The set by Tony Walton is gorgeous. But right now the funniest part of the play is Mike McShane's cast at curtain call.