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Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in "Impressionism" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
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Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons in "Impressionism" at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre

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By Michael Jacobs
Directed by Jack O’Brien

Jeremy Irons and Joan Allen
With Marsha Mason

André De Shields, Michael Weiss, Aaron Lazar,
Margarita Levieva, Hadley Delany

Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre
236 West 45th Street

Scenic Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Catherine Zuber
Lighting Design: Natasha Katz
Projection Design: Elaine J. McCarthy
Sound Design: Leon Rothenberg
Hair & Wig Design: Tom Watson
Original Music Composed and Performed by Bob James
Casting: Laura Stanczyk
Production Manager: Juniper Street Productions
Production Stage Manager: Michael J. Passaro
Press Representative: Boneau/Bryan-Brown
Marketing: HHC Marketing
General Management: 101 Productions, LTD.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
March 22, 2009

This one-act play with naturally magnetizing performances by Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons, two attractive, renowned actors, is set in the Katherine Keenan Gallery, presumably in Soho, filled with works by Mary Cassatt, Modigliani, Ms. Keenan’s (Joan Allen) mentor/lover, Palmer Wilson, and a large photograph of a Tanzanian boy, taken by Thomas Buckle (Jeremy Irons). The art works come to life, in scenes that delve into the characters’ memories, and then stand as backdrops for present and recent past dialogue between Katherine and Thomas, adding occasional visits from would-be customers, a baker, and a businessman-friend. The mood of this eight-scene play is consistent with a stroll in a museum, where paintings and sketches jog the memory, the imagination, the spirit. Each work of art evokes a new emotion, possibly pleasure, possibly loss.

Thomas stopped by the Gallery one day, and he remained to help Katherine in her business venture. The most puzzling aspect of the script is the fact that little money is exchanged in this business, and one assumes the two lead characters are subsidized, much as the French and American Impressionists were often subsidized by investors and philanthropists. There’s a level of languor, of introspection, even patches of silence, all of which imbue this production with the solitude of visual aesthetics. Katherine seems unaware that all the while, Thomas is slowly seducing her. Not in the erotic sense, but in the psychic sense. Ms. Allen assumes a silky demeanor, subtly smooth, fashionably attired, detached. Mr. Irons is more rumpled, but always charismatic. Their connection builds through conversational illuminations, with the artworks as catalysts.

Katherine reveals sadness, as her father left the family, and the memory skit has Ms. Allen as her mother, Mr. Irons as her father, and Hadley Delany as young Katherine, at six. Another memory skit has Katherine at thirty, in an intimate setting with Palmer Wilson, a past lover. Thomas’ memory skit is set in Tanzania in 2007, in impoverished surroundings, as he meets a young boy, quite ill and helpless. Each of the personal memory skits reveals the deep humanity that the characters conceal in the present. Additional scenes are built on gallery customers who bond with art that Katherine cannot let go. As Katherine, Joan Allen is steadfast in her schedule, her morning coffee and pastries included. In one of the present scenes, the baker, a versatile André De Shields (also a Tanzanian village character), arrives with Ms. Keenan’s pastries, and she is visibly moved. Marsha Mason, as one of the customers, as well as Michael T. Weiss, Margarita Levieva, and Aaron Lazar, all add a natural, realistic element to the gallery venue and patched scenes. Without an intermission, the scenes flow with spellbinding imagination. In fact, Michael Jacobs’ Impressionism inspires the audience to visit a gallery and create its own series of “memory skits”. Kudos to Joan Allen and Jeremy Irons.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at