This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001




Second cousins Maria (Vanessa Redgrave) and David (Jesse Eisenberg) are living in cramped quarters in THE REVISIONIST (photo by Sandra Coudert)

Cherry Lane Theatre
38 Commerce St.
Extended through April 27, $85

Oscar-nominated actor Jesse Eisenberg, who has starred in such films as The Social Network, The Squid and the Whale, and Adventureland, continues his writing/acting double-play foray into off-Broadway with The Revisionist. The follow-up to his 2011 drama, Asuncion, which also was produced by Rattlesticks Playwright Theater at the Cherry Lane, The Revisionist features Eisenberg as David, a self-obsessed novelist who arrives at the claustrophobic apartment of his septuagenarian second cousin, Maria (Vanessa Redgrave), a Holocaust survivor who is so excited to see him that she has filled her cramped home with old family photographs and has plans to take him all around her Baltic port city of Szczecin. But it turns out that David has not come to Poland for a friendly visit but instead to get over a case of writer’s block and make revisions to his next novel, which is on a very tight deadline. He just wants to be left alone in the bedroom, where he can get high and type away on his laptop. He’s rude, selfish, and obnoxious, but Maria takes it all in stride, dropping in surprisingly wry and funny comments that sometimes get past David, who eventually realizes there is more to life than just him and his book. Inspired by actual events, The Revisionist, directed by Kip Fagan, is an intriguing, if not wholly successful, character study, the central story rather slight, and Eisenberg overplays — and overwrites — David’s unlikability and lack of understanding, especially in the first half of the show. Although it’s always great to see the talented Daniel Oreskes (The Twenty-Seventh Man, Russian Transport), who plays a taxi driver who regularly helps out Maria, the part is mostly unnecessary, save for one hysterical scene involving leg shaving. But Redgrave is masterful throughout as Maria, injecting just the right touch of irony and mystery to her witty dialogue, each line delivered with a charming magic. It’s an absolute thrill to see such an accomplished actress at the top of her game in such a small theater. The sold-out run has been extended through April 27, although there is a stand-by line every night; in addition, there are rumblings that the producers are investigating moving the production to Broadway in the near future.

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