Scott Brown
December 03, 2004 AT 05:00 AM EST

A Second Hand Memory

type
Stage
Current Status
In Season
run date
11/22/04
performer
Michael McKean
author
Woody Allen

We gave it a B-

Woody Allen riffs on Arthur Miller, with somber results. A Second Hand Memory is a sturdy, musty ode to the great American dysfunction dramas of the ’50s, soaked in Allen’s trademark resignation about human weakness, yet very stingy with his trademark wit. Gypsy-beatnik Alma (Elizabeth Marvel), long departed to some globe-trotting moral netherworld, narrates/haunts the story of the Brooklyn family she escaped: the thundering, crumbling patriarch (Dominic Chianese), the restless son (Nicky Katt) whose facade of family loyalty is fast-eroding, and their quietly suffering wives (Beth Fowler and Kate Blumberg). All seem a bit catatonic in the headlights of Allen’s exactitude (he also directed), so thank goodness for the effortlessness of Michael McKean, who steals the show as Allen’s go-tobête noir, the Hollywood big shot.

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