Times Crowns CORONADO

The New York Times gave Dennis Lehane’s play CORONADO a rave review this week:

Six People Walk Into a Bar, and a Drama Breaks Out

John Lennon’s creepy cover of “Be My Baby,” the perky 1963 hit by the Ronettes, is playing as the lights go down at the start of “Coronado,” a seductive new throwback of a play by Dennis Lehane. Two hours and many revelations later, it becomes clear what an apt choice of scene-setting music this is, full of double meaning and tapping into that unsettling place where the familiar turns eerie.

Mr. Lehane, a novelist whose books include “Mystic River” (the source of the Clint Eastwood film), makes smart choices in “Coronado,” his first play. He starts things off in a tried-and-true setting, one of those bars that exist primarily in theater, where people go to have loud life-changing conversations that no thinking person would hold within earshot of strangers. But once he has set the tone by invoking the conventions of the genre – shady characters; sex and murder in the air – he shakes things up by throwing the rules of time out the window.

Three pairs of drinkers inhabit this barroom at the start: a psychiatrist and his female patient (Jason MacDonald and Kathleen Wallace), who are arguing about the sex they have already had; a married woman and her lover (Rebecca Miller and Lance Rubin), who look as if they might have sex right there in the saloon; and a father and son (Gerry Lehane – Dennis’s brother – and Avery Clark), who are preoccupied with a stolen gemstone. The fun is in seeing how these tableaus are connected (a puzzle that’s not completed until the action shifts to a fairground in Act II). The playwright doles it all out at an admirable speed, so that you’re figuring the secrets out just about the time he’s revealing them – not an easy trick.

The actors of the Invisible City Theater Company, under David Epstein’s direction, play it full throttle, as if to say, “So what if the peak of the barroom/diner play was back in the last century?” The claustrophobic Manhattan Theater Source space meshes nicely with the material, too.

CORONADO continues through December 17 at Manhattan Theater Source, but it’s sold out, so we hope you’ve already bought your tickets!


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