nytheatre.com review by Michael Criscuolo
March 15, 2007
Greg Turner's new play, Revival, is a romantic comedy for the AARP crowd. The play's protagonists, Marty and Brenda, are old enough for the senior discount at the movies. He's a former playwright who traded in a promising career for family life and a teaching job. She's an actress who went to L.A. and made it big. Thirty years earlier, Brenda starred in Marty's biggest hit, a romantic comedy based on their failed relationship. Now, they're reunited for the first time since then at the Broadway revival of said play, and sparks fly once again. Over the course of a weekend, Marty and Brenda evaluate the possibility of reviving their former romance.
Revival cuts back and forth between Marty and Brenda's tryst-fueled weekend and scenes from Marty's play, in which we meet their younger stand-ins, Paul and Holly. This is a great device that doesn't work as well as it could. Turner's writing is stronger and more confident in the Paul and Holly scenes, whereas in the Marty and Brenda scenes he gets bogged down by clichés and tentativeness. It doesn't help that the play-within-a-play is performed by Peter Roman and Erin Fritch with more energy and humor than their older counterparts, Edward Monterosso and Ellen Lanese, can muster. Monterosso and Lanese, however, have enough wizened gravitas between them to make their scenes work.
Turner has a great story idea here, and I think he could go further with it. Revival's current 40-minute running time is not long enough for the audience to get to know them, nor is it enough time for Turner to fully explore everything he's trying to do. More time spent with Marty and Brenda could help build more suspense about the outcome of their rendezvous (as it stands right now, there's never any doubt how things will end). Also, seeing more scenes from Marty's play might help illuminate why Paul and Holly broke up (right now this isn't clear). What Turner has started with Revival is definitely worth finishing. Deeper investment from him could ultimately pay bigger dividends.