Whirligig is the fantastic new play by Hamish Linklater presented by The New Group. As the audience enters, a young woman lies in a hospital bed, slowly spinning on the stage. The play starts when other pieces are brought forward to suggest settings. The set spins quite often on stage. Not always in the same direction and not always the focus of the show, but the sets work well both as the stage and a metaphor for life, which is always moving but not always predictable. And what is important isn't the walls or chairs, but the conduits of memory.
|Norbert Leo Butz, Noah Bean, Dolly Wells|
We are immediately treated to a sick but quick witted young woman, Julie, (nicely played by Grace Van Patten) her overly extroverted but desperate father (a wonderful turn by Norbert Leo Butz) and oddly removed and hesitant mother (an aching performance by Dolly Wells). There is an odd dynamic where the daughter and mother communicate through dad, but it is explained quickly.
Whirligig pitches the audience forwards and backwards in time and emotion, without ever losing its own footing. A beautifully efficient story of love in its many forms, the players in Whirligig have taken the play’s honesty to heart with touching and perfect performances. The tragedy is how long it takes us all to cut through the bullshit to truth and forgiveness.
Two key players (and fantastic performances) are Trish (Zosia Mamet) and Derrick (Jonny Orsini), both of whom loved Julie and both of whom blame her addition and current situation on themselves. The play is set in a small town in eastern Massachusetts where lives are intertwined in surprising ways, even to the people there.
|Grace Van Patten, Norbert Leo Butz, Jonny Orsini|
Whirligig is skillfully directed by Scott Elliott, who uses the spare stage and spare dialog to great effect and immediacy. Played out in the intimate stages of The Pershing Square Signature Theaters, the play feels both large and intimate. There are almost no false notes among this talented group of actors. And their honesty in this situation pulls at the audience like gravity. Well done
Whirligig | Playwright: Hamish Linklater | Director: Scott Elliott | Cast: Noah Bean, Norbert Leo Butz, Jon DeVries, Alex Hurt, Zosia Mamet, Jonny Orsini, Grace Van Patten, Dolly Wells | website