Alexandra D. Levinsohn and Cole Communication
in association with Alex Donner
By D. CLIFFORD HART
The Studio at Cherry Lane Alternative Theatre, 38 Commerce St., NYC, November 11 – 27, 2004
Director/Set Designer KEVIN CONFOY
Set Designer BRYAN LOGAN
Wardrobe Designer AUTUMN SAVILLE
Lighting Designer GRANT W.S. YEAGER
Stage Manager ALLISON CARHART
Press Representative SPRINGER ASSOCIATES/JOE TRENTACOSTA
Melinda Ryerson – Alexandra D. Levinsohn
Peter Barton – Christopher Cartmill
George Garber - Peter McCabe
Lionel Stringer – David Fuhrer
Deborah Barton – Zandy Hartig
Garrison Spencer – Johnnie Moore
Alexis Spencer – Anna Soloway
It is always a shame when the best of artistic intentions yield less than mediocre results. On paper, a play like BARTON’S CROSSING sounds reasonable enough. There are three scenes. There is conflict, and crisis, and resolution. There is even a smattering of socio-economic debate. In the end, it is all just a massive shell, however, as if the action were occurring in a dollhouse and via the imagination of, say, a five year old child perceiving the universe as a series of good guys and bad guys, with no larger lessons learned at the end of the day.
At the core of BARTON’S CROSSING, we meet Peter Barton on the 10th anniversary of the opening of his hit play, PRINCE GREGORY. A decade has passed, and, of course, Peter has become what he vowed never to, moving from New York City to the suburbs, and building a life that revolves around family, golf, and steering clear of the wrong side of the tracks. His three pals from way back when have come to visit and celebrate the milestone, but all their presence does is uproot issues, ignite fights, and expose infidelity and unrequited lust. Could have been mighty interesting, if handled properly. Unfortunately, there are ghosts of lives past in the machine.
In case you could not guess, the protagonist in BARTON’S CROSSING is the spouse, Deborah Barton, the club girl turned shrew who is to blame for all her husband’s changes. This character is so uptight and so unlike the "Debbie" of ten years earlier the friends keep referencing that the entire construct of the bitchy-wife-to-blame feels totally inappropriate. Deborah is so tautly drawn a woman, we can barely imagine loving gestures emanating from her. Add in the fact that Peter’s best friend George still harbors feelings for her from years ago, and the fact that Deborah is having an affair and the matter becomes downright perplexing.
Plot points are not the only problem in this production of BARTON’S CROSSING. Some of the actors repeatedly faltered or tripped over their lines, a very distracting element, and the overall direction style was exceedingly stagy. Kudos are in order, however, for both the set design and the costumes, as both represented the play well.
I have been experiencing the keenest sense of déjà vu ever since seeing the BARTON’S CROSSING. Is it possible that I have seen this all before? Perhaps not all at once, but here and there, in the details of other plays? I believe I have. That is not to say that this is a horrible work. It is, however, derivative and flawed, and left me whispering to myself, "So what?"
- Kessa De Santis -