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

17Jan/17

CONSIDER THE LILIES

(photo by Talya Chalef)

Aging alcoholic painter Paul (Austin Pendleton) needs to be held up by his caring agent, David (Eric Joshua Davis), in CONSIDER THE LILIES (photo by Talya Chalef)

TBG Theatre
312 West 36th Street, third floor
Tuesday - Sunday through January 28, $18
www.houseredtheatre.com

Just a few minutes into the second act of the world premiere of Stuart Fail’s Consider the Lilies at the TBG Theatre, I imagined myself standing up, screaming out, “Stop! I can’t take anymore!” and storming out. It was only after the interminable play ended, more than two and a half hours after it had begun, that my companion told me that she had thought about doing the same, only during the first act. Either way, Consider the Lilies, despite the central presence of Tony-nominated director (Between Riverside and Crazy, The Little Foxes), actor (Fiddler on the Roof, Homicide: Life on the Street), and playwright (Booth, Orson’s Shadow) Austin Pendleton, is not worth considering. Pendleton, whose long career was justly celebrated in last year’s Starring Austin Pendleton, plays Paul, an aging artist trying to make a go of it in Paris, where he is coddled by his young agent, former actor David (Eric Joshua Davis). Paul, a bisexual alcoholic most famous for his decades-old iconic painting of lilies, is in love with David, who also loves Paul, but not in that way; instead, David is involved with Angela (Liarra Michelle), who is waiting for him back in New York City while he works with the nervous Paul, who is having a show in Paris at François’s (Joseph Hamel) gallery but desperately wants to be relevant again across the pond. Fail, who wrote and directed the work for House Red Theatre Company, which he runs with Davis — this play is the troupe’s first New York City production — also throws in several subplots about unwanted pregnancies and fathers and sons that pile one on top of another in a confusing mess. The play, which takes its name from a biblical verse from Matthew, devolves even further upon the arrival of hot young artist Zack (Peter Collier), while Alec Merced portrays three characters who appear to have walked onto the wrong set. Pendleton is fun to watch in the first act, all quirky and squirmy, but Paul, along with the story, grows more and more annoying and ridiculous after intermission. At one point, it was more exciting following the reflection from Davis’s watch dancing across the floor than what was happening onstage. And be advised that lilies can signify either fertility or death; you can consider that a warning.

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