Not everyone likes Woody Allen’s comedy, it can be a bit high-brow, idiosyncratic, or vulgar for some tastes, and like any comedy, some of his works from decades past are infused with a now-dated zeitgeist. Others appreciate his “longstanding mastery at putting characters in zany predicaments” (uswishunu) and, like “generations of neurotic college students,” find “intellectual heroes in Allen’s cinematic alter-egos” (philly2philly.com).
I read with agreement the positive reviews among the mixed reception for 1812 Productions‘ world premiere An Evening Without Woody Allen, now on stage at Plays and Players. The cast of three performed “well with the other star of the show… the various Woody Allen texts,” eliciting “plenty of yuks” (uwishunu) in a staging “that will surely delight his fans” (philly2philly.com). Others disagreed. Though praising some of the dramatized material (“comprised of some of the best of Allen’s early written work” [PW]), the Inquirer found the “excellent actors” providing only the odd funny moment in this “lazy theater” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Younger Woody Allen fans have delighted in some of his later work, Celebrity, Match Point, and Deconstructing Harry showing to them his versatility and continued relevance, and the strength of his persona when it is embodied in another actor. Others find these films “devoid of new ideas” and plain “not funny” and stodgily criticize 1812’s dramatizations of prose works that “are meant to be read, not acted” (Broad Street Review). But they would find it hard for director Jen Childs to pump life into works that, in their opinion, possess “a limited arsenal of schticks” and “lost their novelty long ago” (Broad Street Review). Mmmnh.
It seems a matter of taste. Opinions of those who talked to Philadelphia Magazine’s “Man on the Street” ranged from “I hated it” to “very entertaining and funny” (blogs.phillymag.com). Oh well, I’m sure some people disliked Annie Hall. Those who like Woody Allen will find his presence thankfully evident.
Read my preview piece, 1812 Productions’ An Evening Without Woody Allen, now onstage at Plays and Players at philly2philly.com.
An Evening Without Woody Allen
Text by Woody Allen, directed by Jennifer Childs
1812 Productions at Plays & Players, 1714 Delancey St.
Through May 16, $25-$32.