It takes a moment for your mind to adjust to Idina Menzel in a non-musical, but only a moment. She steps onto the Laura Pels’ stage and takes command, her character demanding supportive noises from her father. Playing Jodi Issacs, a mother in her mid-forties whose husband left her for a 24 year hottie, Idina blazes with self-righteous pity and a small amount of anger that comes off more as serious annoyance. Jodi is about to get a lot more annoyed.
Jodi has flown in from LA to surprise her father on his 70th birthday and to bask in a little parental comfort. Her father, Elliot (Jack Weatherall), doesn’t want to celebrate his birthday, hates surprises and doesn’t do parental comfort well. Elliot is gay fashion designer that sells sex and the clothes that support it. It is impossible not to think of Calvin Klein, since the backstory of the poor Hungarian Jew that makes good mimics Mr. Klein (although the home borough of Bronx has been replaced by the trendier Brooklyn) and because Mr. Weatherall projects exactly what one would expect Mr. Klein to be like.
|Jack WEtherall, Will Brittain, Idina Menzel and Eli Gleb|
Worse, for Jodi, is that Elliot has a much younger boyfriend, Oklahoma boy Trey (Will Brittain) chosen mainly for handsome looks. Trey is the same age as Jodi’s son Benjamin (Eli Gleb). The fact her ex-husband and her father are now both involved with sexy creatures in their 20s, means that Jodi’s escape to New York is very little escape after all.
And this house was never her home. It is a steel and grey showplace that, at first, doesn’t really look like anyone’s home, but Elliot and Trey fit the place well. Jodi walks right up to the point of demanding her father choose her or Trey, but pulls back when the answer becomes obvious.
Skintight is very funny, occasionally titillating and a lovely chance for every actor to show off in a few great scenes. On the other hand, it rarely connects to the audience. Everyone stays in their lane when I would have expected a little more chaos.
|Eli Gleb and Will Brittain|
Will Brittain has moments that stand out, because his character is often charged with being more than an attractive cardboard cutout of a character. I would like to have seen more chances taken with the excellent cast.
Playwright Joshua Harman uses Skintight to ask if beauty is as critically important as our society has made it. His answer is that – yes, it is. And the answer is dispatched with very little irony. Director Daniel Aukin moves the pieces of the play excellently, but I was left somehow wanting more.
Playwright: Joshua Harmon
Director: Daniel Aukin
Cast: Will Brittain, Eli Gleb, Indina Menzel, Jack Wetherall, Stephen Carrasco, Cynthia Mace