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Terrence McNally's Valentine to The Pearl Theater Company

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Onstage backstage, at the Pearl Theater's production of "And Away We Go," six actors celebrate theater history. Set in the detritus of years of costumes, props, deflated dolls, and chandeliers, this new play by the venerable Terrence McNally sits on the most cluttered set north of 14th Street. (Small Engine Repair's garage at the Lucille Lortel gets the prize south.) The lived-in look works well to convey an atmosphere of well-worn theatrical mayhem. The Greek plays such as Aeschylus's "Oresteia," an actor's dream to perform Shakespeare's "King Lear," Chekhov's "Seagull," Edward Albee's "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," all evoked, all supply a turn of phrase, a dramatic diva in this Dionysian and clever pastiche, under Jack Cummings III able direction, featuring the Pearl regulars Carol Schultz, Sean McNall, Rachel Botchan, and Dominic Cuskern, and a pair of newcomers, Donna Lynne Champlin and Micah Stock.

As to plot, well, there's always the worry that this season will be the last, unless a wealthy patron writes a gargantuan check, and in a hilarious moment, a sexual favor is offered to ensure just that. Happy endings abound! On opening night last week, Dominic Cuskern said McNally wrote the play specifically for Pearl Theater, in friendship with Cuskern, and in admiration for the work of this special theater company specializing in producing the classics. Next up: Paul Bowles' adaptation of Jean Paul Sartre's "No Exit."

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.