Set during the Great Depression with a Madoff-like financier, Gregor Antonescu (Frank Langella), at its center, “Man and Boy,” should certainly speak to this parallel era. Alas, it has little to say. And it seems to take forever to say it.
It’s fun to watch Langella strut his stuff. He jumps into the skin of the colorfully amoral Antonescu, perched on the brink of ruin, with abandon. But it’s not enough to carry this tired drama, which ran for less than two months on Broadway in 1963.
For one thing, it’s incredibly simplistic. Antonescu is a smooth operator, but the ease with which he dupes a merger target’s CEO (Zach Grenier) and accountant (Brian Hutchison) in connection with a deal going south is laughable.
And the drama’s pivotal relationship, that of Antonescu to his grown son Basil (Adam Driver), is a complete muddle. Basil understandably goes back and forth between acceptance and rejection of his manipulative father. But after his father uses him as bait to save the merger, Basil rejects dad once and for all — or not.
This final turnaround doesn’t wash. Like much of the play, it’s more driven by plot than character and therefore rings hollow.