Melissa Rose Bernardo
April 18, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Life (x) 3

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
run date
03/31/03
performer
Helen Hunt, John Turturro
director
Matthew Warchus

We gave it a B-

Imagine the ultimate disastrous dinner party: caustic atmosphere, pitiful food, and labored conversation. Multiply that by three, and you have the frustrating premise of Yasmina Reza’s latest confection. The French playwright — who snagged a 1998 Tony for her men-bonding-over-blank-canvas comedy Art — brings two couples to the table: a former lawyer (Helen Hunt), her floundering physicist husband (John Turturro, projecting more spit than subtlety), his priggish boss (Brent Spiner), and his tightly wound wife (Linda Emond). And though tidily played on Mark Thompson’s spinning set, Reza’s intriguing gimmick — the unfolding of the evening’s events in three different ways — goes awry. The scenarios don’t vary quite enough, and only Emond’s nuanced performance offsets the play’s shortcomings. As for Hunt, the Oscar winner is predictably bland; still, it’s rather befitting a hostess who serves Cheez-Its and chocolate fingers.

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