Cherry Lane Theatre presents this new comedy about a couple that builds their entire relationship on the idea that opposites attract...until one day they are tested by a single decision. More…
This is the story of Cleo and Joe — the meeting of their minds, the entwining of their hearts, and their life-long search for a meaningful point in a universe too random to have one. It’s a journey marked by a missing baby, a forged painting, a house invader, a tidal wave, and frozen pistou. Will they rise above their outrageous fortune and find ecstatic love?
"Playwright Alan Hruska has concocted an engaging and zany fable-like play...Under Chris Eigeman’s careful and intelligent direction, Mr. Bartok and Ms. Campbell navigate the terrain of fable and absurdity without becoming cartoons...'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' is engaging, entertaining, and existentially satisfying." Full Review
"Hruska is interested in capturing the moments that make life worthy. Those looking for answers to life’s troubles will undoubtedly find the play unfulfilling, but those aware of theatre’s ability to act as a mirror will not only be entertained, but will also be left empowered, knowing that once they leave the show, they have the choice to decide whether they will let the handsome stranger waiting somewhere out there, to sweep them off their feet, or not." Full Review
"Playwright Alan Hruska has concocted an engaging and zany fable-like play...Perhaps 'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' does not fully answer the question of the attainability of ecstatic love but I am not sure that was the point of Mr. Hruska’s script...'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' is engaging, entertaining, and existentially satisfying and well worth the visit to the iconic Cherry Lane Theatre." Full Review
"If an existentialist philosopher ever attempted a light romantic comedy, it might sound a little like 'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down,' Alan Hruska’s quaintly absurdist play. An amiable, if surface-skimming approach to love, marriage, and all that sort of thing...There’s a lot of whimsy here and it would grow more wearing if not for the extravagant pace of Chris Eigeman’s direction and the brisk brightness of the performances." Full Review
"The actors do their spectacular best, and one aches for them to have landed on this stage in this production. The writing is laconic and fails to engage the observer. Chris Eigeman’s direction is nearly as plodding as the dialogue....'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' does little more than bewilder and disappoint." Full Review
"The ensemble of four work hard and although director Chris Eigeman tries to move this comedy along at rapid pace (it’s listed as 95 minutes, with one intermission – but seems longer), there’s too much squeezed into the writing that should have concentrated more heavily on less ultimately giving us more." Full Review
"Though they build complex characters in their four roles apiece, the play's three-act structure feels overambitious for a 95-minute piece (interrupted by an unnecessary 15-minute intermission) that encompasses 20 years of a quirky marriage...'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' rests squarely in the modern absurdist tradition, but one wishes, while watching Joe and Cleo floating on their buoy, that the play's humor didn't seem equally adrift." Full Review
'Laugh It Up, Stare it Down' combines a banal portrait of a marriage with an even more banal discussion of the meaning of life, featuring plotting that is alternately clichéd and wildly maladroit...Overall, this is a pale and wandering effort, marked by some surprisingly amateurish touches." Full Review
"Alan Hruska, author of this uninspired marital comedy, has been very active writing novels, film scripts, and plays...I’m not familiar with his earlier work, so I can only hope it’s better than this blandly written, blandly performed, and blandly directed concatenation of scenes from a marriage. Ingmar Bergman, where are you when we need you?" Full Review
"The scenes come off as a jumble of incomplete sketches – neither funny nor fresh nor especially thought provoking; just odd...Watching 'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' winds up offering a lesson in the Theater of the Absurd, but not one the creative team intended; it’s a realization of what the absurdist classics do right that this new play does wrong." Full Review
"The show is outdated, predictable, thinking that one line quips count as dialogue. One wonders how this play was produced. Nothing makes sense here...Alan Hruska’s writing is just inane as the plot rambles from bad to worse. At the intermission a beautiful day awaited as a good portion of the audience left for better shores. Unfortunately I returned jealous of their freedom and my imprisonment, where the show turned into the Titanic." Full Review
"A harangued reviewer must bluntly report that the clipped and utterly unbelievable 'Laugh It Up, Stare It Down' itself demands survival instincts. There are few laughs, though there definitely is much staring in disbelief...Actors Bartok and Campbell are too defeated by the relentlessly bludgeoning lines to emerge in any way victorious." Full Review
"From the opening moment of this show, suspension of disbelief flies out the window and never returns...This piece belongs in a time capsule. Frankly, the dramatist should spend less time writing and more time listening to random conversations. He needs to absorb how people actually talk to each other…that quality is woefully missing here. And the cast does not help...But what could they do with the hapless dialogue? I can’t answer that question." Full Review
See it if A cross between "I Do, I Do" and "Waiting for Godot" reminds you that, "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness." Attractive cast works hard.
Don't see it if Philosophical New Yorker cartoon posturing feels dramatically deficient and it's only occasionally worthy of a smile.
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