Chasing Manet – Theater Review
Primary Stages concludes the 2008-2009 season with the world premiere of the new comedy Chasing Manet by Tina Howe, in which a rebellious painter from a distinguished family in Boston and an ebullient Jewish woman with a huge adoring family form an unlikely bond. Inside the confining walls of Mount Airy Nursing Home, the two plot an escape to Paris aboard the QE2. But can they possibly pull it off amidst the chaos of their surroundings? The tension and comedy grow as they struggle to take wing for the last time. Directed by Michael Wilson, the cast will feature Tony Award-winner Jane Alexander and Lynn Cohen.
“Chasing Manet” is a worthy effort. It’s in two acts, but probably would have been better served in one. Jane Alexander is always wonderful on stage, as is Lynn Cohen. The story is of two elderly women, who find themselves roommates in assisted living, then decide to break out. If this had been limited to, more or less, a two-person show in one act, I think it actually would have worked. As it is, you had the feeling that they’re filling in time, and filling in characters, and by the end of the first act, half the audience is ready to off themselves, and in fact does take off. This is a shame, because these are two very good actresses, and there really is some meaning here. But, I’m not sure why it went so long. This is a play you want to like a lot better than you do. Two stars.