AN EVENING WITH BURTON & RUSSELL
nytheatre.com review by Danielle Duvall
Occasionally, a slapstick twosome comes along who meld on a level well
above other comedy duos. The latest and greatest in this vein: the
veritable Arnie Burton & Jay Russell. These two extremely talented
actors volley and serve with fluidity and exceptional timing. While the
writing is hit-and-miss, I’d pay to listen to these clever gentlemen
read the phone book aloud.
August 15, 2002
Under normal circumstances, I am not a huge fan of theatre that examines the world of theatre. I usually long for a magical mystery ride to the highlands of "Somewhere Else." That said, An Evening with Burton & Russell flies through a series of wildly entertaining vignettes and interludes, and mocks the disgustingly over-sincere theatre folk of the world at every turn. One vignette is particularly amusing for those who have ever studied an actor’s "process"—jumping from scathing jokes of Stanislavski to Strasberg to Viewpoints to Feldenchrist. Again, this is not material that falls under my Top Ten Most Important Topics to Cover in a Play. However, this is truly a unique opportunity to examine a bona fide team. With acerbic wit, Burton and Russell are simpatico to the N-th degree.
The final vignette does not seem to fit with the rest of their presentation. A variation of the "I-want-to-go-to-New-York-and-be-a-star" theme, its theatrical conventions and story line differ greatly from earlier scenes. So much in fact, that we struggle to take the leap. It’s a different play—for a separate evening of theatre. Conversely, director Shelly Delaney brings some rather innovative and clever moments to this piece in particular. However, both Burton and Russell switch roles left and right (all throughout this scene) with ease and silky-smooth transitions. I wanted to buy them both a cold beer afterwards—an icy import. They’re wonderful.