Lawrence Harbison, our very own critic, brings you up to date with what’s hot and what’s not in New York. In this column, Larry reports on BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY.
After almost two years away from NYC, avoiding the pandemic, I’m back seeing shows.
Between Riverside and Crazy is my second play. The first I did not care for, and parts of it I found Beyond Disgusting, so I’m not writing about it. That gets me to Stephen Adly Guirgis’ play. I saw this the first time around Off Broadway, and now it has moved to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre, its cast mostly intact sans one actor.
This wonderful play is about an elderly retired cop named Walter, disabled years ago when he was shot six times in an after hours bar. He has a quixotic suit pending against the city and refuses to settle. A cop who’s married to his former partner tries everything he can think about to get him to change his mind. Will he or won’t he forms the crux of the plot. Meanwhile, his son Junior is living with him along with his girlfriend, who may or may not be pregnant, and fencing stolen goods. Junior’s unstable friend also lives with him. Everyone calls the old guy “Dad.” It’s a strange extended family into which barges a Church Lady, determined to bring Walter to Jesus, and she resorts to an unusual way to do it, which is out and out hilarious.
Stephen McKinley Henderson is wonderful as Walter, but all the cast is first rate. A rapper who calls himself Common is particularly good as Junior, and Maria Christine Oliveras steals the show as the Church Lady. The realistic, revolving set by Walt Spangler gets applause more than once, and Austin Pendelton has directed the play with his usual steady hand.
Between Riverside and Crazy is the kind of play we rarely see these days—classic American realism with terrific characters, beautifully directed. My kind of play.
Between Riverside and Crazy. Helen Hayes Theatre, 240 W. 44thSt. Tickets: www.2st.com
For discount tickets for groups of ten or more, contact Carol Ostrow Productions & Group Sales. Phone: 212-265-8500. E-Mail: email@example.com.
"It requires a certain largeness of spirit to give generous appreciation to large achievements. A society with a crabbed spirit and a cynical urge to discount and devalue will find that one day, when it needs to draw upon the reservoirs of excellence, the reservoirs have run dry."
—George F. Will
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who actually does strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”