As Bette Davis uttered in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy night.” That sentiment can be shared with Joshua Ravetch‘s One November Yankee, the latest Off-Broadway offering at 59E59 Street Theaters. Except with Yankee, you’re not going to hear a fraction of smart dialogue that Joseph L. Mankiewicz scripted for Eve.
Instead, you’ll slog through a conversation about “Crumpled Plane”, a modern art exhibit created by Ralph (Harry Hamlin) as a commission for his sister, Maggie (Stephanie Powers). This is the first of four scenes in Ravetch’s play that can’t seem to decide whether it’s comedy or drama.
The remaining scenes include the same set, designed with impressive awe by Dana Moran Williams. They involve the same two actors, only this time they are Margo (Powers) and Harry (Hamlin), a pair of Jewish siblings who have survived a plane wreck.
The third installment revolves around yet another brother/sister pair who discover a plane wreck. It also explains the title; the letters on the aircraft’s tail: 1NY. What is doesn’t explain is why 59E59 Street theaters decided to pick up this play, which ran earlier this fall at Delaware Theatre Company.
Ravetch, who also directed the work, wants to say something poignant about family relationships, but his script drifts into a Bermuda triangle of conversation and we’re never quite sure of what that is.
Powers and Hamlin, two familiar television and film faces from the eighties and nineties, attempt to handle the hokey situations as best as possible, but it’s a chore for both them and the audience. In spite of the 90-minute run-time, it feels more like a turbulent cross country flight from New York to LA.
One November Yankee runs Off-Broadway at 59E59 Street Theaters (59th between Park and Madison) through Dec. 29th. For tickets and information, click here.