Stage Review

FIFTH OF JULY (2003 - 2003)


Details Opening Date: Feb 03, 2003; Lead Performances: Jessalyn Gilsig, David Harbour, Robert Sean Leonard and Parker Posey; Writer: Lanford Wilson; Director: Jo Bonney

For a minute, you'll swear you've walked into a Chekhov play. An extended family in a sleepy backwoods setting, plaintively recalling the good old days, fantasizing about going somewhere...anywhere. But this is not turn-of-the-century Russia; it's 1970s Missouri. And the playwright behind this masterful 1978 tragicomedy is Lanford Wilson (Burn This). The plot engine may be contrived (the much-fretted-over spreading of a loved one's ashes), but Wilson's characters are irresistibly uncommon: a teacher/Vietnam vet who walks on wooden legs (Robert Sean Leonard, brooding beautifully), his flower-child-turned-single-mom sister, their absentminded aunt who refrigerates her husband's remains. Yet under the guidance of director Jo Bonney, eccentric personalities yield mannered overacting (most egregiously from Parker Posey, whose high-strung heiress is all fluttery hands and grand gestures), and this revival goes from Chekhovian to sitcom-ian.

Originally posted Feb 14, 2003 Published in issue #695 Feb 14, 2003 Order article reprints

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