In David Rabe’s revival of his 1971 anti-war play Sticks and Bones, Ozzie, Harriet, Dave and Ricky are back. At first they are the perky, smiling automatons we remember, but then Dave comes home from Vietnam blind and suffering from PTSD. For the next three hours you get to watch this “perfect” family unravel and it ain’t pretty.
Luckily, I’ve seen all the actors of this stellar cast before so I knew that the over-the-top performances were not due to bad acting. Bill Pullman becomes completely (and ridiculously) unhinged as self-loathing, racism and hatred consume him. Holly Hunter’s manic, shrill performance had me cringing for the entire show. Then there’s Ricky (Raviv Ullman) – if he said “Hi Mom, Hi Dad”, as he barged through the front door, one additional time I would have jumped on stage to throttle him. Ben Schnetzer, as David, just made me angry – I couldn’t feel one drop of compassion for him and I think that was the emotion the playwright was aiming for. Interestingly enough I was fascinated with Nadia Gan’s performance as Zung – an apparition of the Asian woman that David can’t get out of his mind. She truly seemed to float. So for me, my time was not totally wasted.
Perhaps I wasn’t crazy about this play because I prefer subtlety rather than being bombarded with messages. So my advice is that unless you are just dying to see these actors on stage, stay home and watch a really good anti-war movie. LAR
The New Group at the Pershing Square Signature Center, 480 W 42nd Street.
Ticket prices: $75-$95, http://www.thenewgroup.org/sticks-and-bones.html
Discounts: available for veterans SBVET25 for $25 tickets (with ID)
Runs thru: December 14, 2014
Running time: 3 hours including a 15 minute intermission