Theater review: ‘Medieval Play’ a history in tedium

Even these guys look a little weary. "Medieval Play" runs through June 24.

With its frat-house humor and a length evoking the Hundred Years’ War in which it’s set, Kenneth Lonergan’s “Medieval Play” at the Pershing Square Signature Theatre proves a rather tedious history lesson. And that’s a shame, since it begins with rapier wit as Sir Ralph (Josh Hamilton) and Sir Alfred (Tate Donovan) provide pithy insights into the geopolitical landscape as they philosophize between bouts of raping and pillaging.

What’s so funny about the knights’ exchange, and what disappears completely 15 minutes later, is the juxtaposition of a modern perspective with a feudal landscape. Their predictions about the demise of agrarian society and the rise of the nation-state are completely anachronistic, and their deadpan delivery of such observations is unexpected and funny.

But by the time Sir Ralph decides to search for an alternative to the meaningless existence of a knight-errant, the play’s humor becomes completely generic. Costumes and plot are still firmly rooted in the Middle Ages, with the Avignon papacy moving back to Rome, followed by the Great Papal Schism and a pope in each of France and Italy. But the ironic, time-twisted viewpoint has been replaced by a second-rate “Animal House” sensibility. Instead of a toga party, it’s armor and mail, but the crude dialogue and broad sight gags would be equally at home (or not) in any era. If hearing a Saint Catherine of Siena (Heather Burns) drop the F-bomb is your idea of witty repartee, go for it. Otherwise, don’t.   

‘Medieval Play’
Through June 24
Pershing Square Signature Center
480 West 42nd Street
$25, all seats
www.signaturetheatre.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hillary Clinton headed to Boston for women's leadership…

Former U.S. Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to visit Massachusetts Wednesday amid continuing speculation about making another bid for the presidency in 2016.

Local

The Boston Marathon: Step by step, the race…

For over a century, the Boston Marathon has been an event centered around sportsmanship, endurance and athleticism, but there’s no denying the face of the renowned race has been changed…

Local

Boston Marathon: Marathoners ready to run, honor victims

Scores of runners will cross the Boston Marathon starting line in Hopkinton Monday and embark on a 26.2-mile journey to Boston in honor of the victims.

Local

MIT student, Rhodes scholar, dies

Eliana Hechter, a student at MIT and Harvard, died, her family said. The announcement was posted on MIT's website.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.