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Paulanne Simmons

“Harbor” Moves Quickly But Doesn’t Go Far

Directed by Mark Lamos
59E59 Theaters
59 East 59 Street between Park and Madison
From July 23, 2013
Tues -Thurs 7, Fri- Sat 8, Sat 2, Wed 2 (August 21 & 28), Sun 3 (no performance September 1)
Tickets: $70 (212) 279-4200
Closes Sept. 8, 2013
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons Aug. 15, 2013

The best that can be said about Chad Beguelin’s “Harbor” is that it moves quickly. Of course, that is in part due to the fact that the author doesn’t take much time to create character. But it’s also because Beguelin keeps the comic cracks coming in rapid-fire succession. And director Mark Lamos makes sure the alternating scenes movie smoothly.

(l-r) Alexis Molnar, and Erin Cummings in the Primary Stages production of Harbor. photo by Carol Rosegg.

The plot is tightly constructed. Donna Adams (Erin Cummings) is a single mother living in a van with her teenage daughter, Lottie (Alexis Molnar). When the play opens, she is driving that van to the Sag Harbor home of her brother, Kevin (Randy Harrison), and his husband, Ted (Paul Anthony Stewart). After a few minutes banter, which shows what a miserable mother she is and how much her daughter can’t stand her, Donna reveals that she is pregnant.

As it turns out, Donna has a plan. She has no idea who is the father of her child and no desire to raise it. She hopes to convince Kevin and Ted to do the job. But Ted and Kevin have problems of his own. Kevin is a writer who has not finished his novel in ten years. Ted is an architect whose business is falling off. But the really insurmountable problem is that Ted has no desire to become a parent.

Donna, who is both crazy and manipulative, convinces her brother he really needs and wants this child. At the same time, Ted is growing closer to the needy and neglected Lottie. But Ted and Kevin’s relationship has now become a time bomb waiting to explode. The situation is resolved by the end of the play in a consistent, if unbelievable, way.

(l-r) Randy Harrison, and Paul Anthony Stewart in the Primary Stages production of Harbor. photo by Carol Rosegg.

If the plot of Harbor is improbable, the characters are either boring or farcical. Donna is a fantasy nightmare of someone’s mother from hell. When Ted and Kevin throw a birthday party for Lottie, Donna complains that they have forgotten her birthday. She is loud, drunk, vulgar and strangely homophobic. Lottie is a precocious savant who seems to have been created to deliver one-liners that come from the author’s pen. Ted and Kevin could easily be exchanged with just about any gay couple ever presented on stage or screen.

Beguelin, who has worked primarily on musicals, does not seem to know the difference between clever lyrics and believable dialogue. He has given his actors an impossible task, and they respond as actors often do. Given the playwright’s shallow dialogue, their response is non-specific acting.

There’s lots of yelling and crying and stomping around in this play. The question is - about what?



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