‘Big Love’ a letdown despite cast, crew

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Rob Sherron, Contributing Writer

Picture 12Clearly, much effort was put into this production. Each costume was unique, and each was gorgeously designed. The stage itself lived up to Mee’s expectation that it be “more an installation than a set.” It may have been the least striking or inventive set we’ve seen in the past four years, but it was also one of the prettiest, in a J.J. Abrams sort of way.

The cast members also clearly gave it their all. Big Love may have featured one of the most consistent casts in recent mainstage memory; a complaint could not be registered about a single actor. Of special note are the brides (Deborah Corpening as the romantic Lydia, Annie Zwerneman as the airhead Olympia and Erin Kleiber as the raging Thyona), Skyler Patton’s Italian grandmother and Paul Fojut’s Giuliano, who is absurd, hilarious and touching. A lot was demanded of this cast, and it delivered in its entirety.

All of the components on display were incredible; this, however, means less than you would think. If I were to scrap a Lamborghini to build a composter, no matter how shiny the chrome plating, the whole thing would still stink. The truth is that no amount of work by the cast or crew could create a production that transcended Big Love’s script. The play did not come together; it did not work as a whole, as David Foster Wallace noted in his indictment of similarly juvenile works of Big Love’s time, “even gifted ironists work best in sound bites.”

Big Love was a series of excellently performed sound bites, alternatively amusing or trite. Director Stefan Novinski should have gone beyond the bowdlerization we saw and staged an even less faithful adaptation, if he had hoped to produce anything more than a (mostly) pleasant 90-minute distraction.

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