Between Riverside and Crazy – Crazy-good acting in a play I wasn’t crazy about

Between Riverside and CrazyThe play Between Riverside and Crazy is much more than is hinted at in the promotional material. It’s a play about race, love, loss AND how far people go to keep a rent-controlled apartment.

Pops is an old, widowed, crotchedy ex-cop who lives in a rent-controlled “mansion” on New York’s Upper West Side. He resides with his middle-aged son, the son’s girlfriend and his son’s friend who is an ex-con. Pops left the police department after being shot, in what may have been a racially motivated incident, and has been involved in a lawsuit with the police department for eight years. It’s now an election year, the police department wants this case to go away, and it’s not beneath them to use extortion.

These characters are so well written that you like and loathe everyone at the same time. Although the language can be abrasive, the playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis tempers the dialogue with humor. The first act is riveting and the second act begins with a sex scene, the likes of which you will not believe (p.s. there’s no nudity). The tension builds, peaks and then fizzles into what for me was an unsatisfactory ending.

It’s worth seeing this play to watch Stephen McKinley Henderson’s absolutely perfect portrayal of Pops. He’s supported by an excellent cast with Elizabeth Canavan and Liza Colón-Zayas giving standout performances. So, I would recommend seeing this show, but I’d try to find a discounted ticket. LAR

Atlantic Theater, Linda Gross Theater (atlantictheater.org), 336 W 20th Street

Running time: 2 hours, with one intermission

Through: August 16

2starsHalfBagFeb

 

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