The new Broadway play, “Grace”, written by Craig Wright (“Dirty Sexy Money”, “Six Feet Under”) challenges it’s character’s faith and limits of sanity when faced with life’s decisions and hardships. The suspenseful 100 minute piece is set against the peaceful backdrop of sunny Florida, which is benefited by Beowulf Boritt’s scenic design, David Weiner’s Lighting and Tif Bullard’s costumes, which could be mistaken for a Boca Raton resort wear collection.
The play centers on a couple, Steve and Sara, played by Paul Rudd and Kate Arrington, who leave their life in Minnesota to open up a chain of gospel hotels in Florida. Steve has all the attributes to be the next evangelical superstar, and is referred to by Ed Asner’s character as a ‘Jesus Freak’. Sara is seemingly along for the ride, but demonstrates her own religiosity early on in the play when she stops Steve, midstream from sharing some good news, to embark on a momentary prayer of thanks. Academy Award nominee, Michael Shannon, plays Sam, the widowed and facially disfigured neighbor, who is unsuccessfully dealing with his loss, while exuding a nasty exterior. Ed Asner rounds out this very talented foursome as the exterminator who helps flesh out this complicated and deep look at our limits of faith under times of loss, reality checks, and duress.
All the key elements of a great play are in place from Wright’s script which ebss and flows between comedy and drama with natural precision. Of course, this is perfectly executed by a stellar cast who all have the ability to lure it’s audience into this complicated web of backstories filled with guilt and notions of faith, and ultimately care about the climatic outcome. Rudd, in particular, makes you forget his typical roles in films like, “Wanderlust”, “Our Idiot Brother” and “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, and instead realize his knack for playing a crazy and obsessed character. Michael Shannon gives so much through body language, with little to no words, and half his faced exposed underneath a mask.
Props go to director, Dexter Bullard for his use of a single set for the entire play, effective sound, and a strategic opening scene. Fans of the film, “Memento” will undertand and appreciate this opening technique, which appears later on in the production. “Grace” opens October 4th and runs through January 6th, 2013 at the Cort Theatre (138 West 48th Street, between 6th and 7th Avenues). For tickets visit http://graceonbroadway.com/tickets.html Official website: www.graceonbroadway.com