It’s one of the more curious trends of the day that musicals, which were once brash and vulgar, and full of slick presentational choreography, are now austere stately bores like Titanic; on the other hand, straight plays, in contrast to the restraint of their lyric neighbors, are frequently brash, vulgar and full of slick presentational choreography. Whether this inversion is in the interest of either form is debatable. Take, for example, More Stately Mansions, “by Eugene O’Neill”—though the production is enough to make you wonder. At the New York Theatre Workshop, Ivo van Hove’s staging of this triangular tale of mother, son, and wife begins each act with the three principals solemnly entering and forming themselves into … a triangle. The numbing vaudevillian obviousness of the gesture is enough to make you groan. Yes, O’Neill’s play is about a triangle, but that doesn’t narrow it...


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