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MOONLIGHT (Roundabout Theatre Company at Criterion Center): Harold Pinter's first full-length play presented in New York since 1980 stars Jason Robards as a foul-tongued civil servant who engages in deathbed ruminations on his failures and regrets. Blythe Danner plays his long-suffering wife. Although the piece has been given a superb production (directed by Karel Reisz), it is too elliptical and amorphous to have much dramatic impact. The characterizations are hazy and undefined, and the abstract "Pinterspeak" can be maddening. But there are moments that resonate, and Robards gives a superb performance.
DANGEROUS CORNER (Atlantic Theatre Company): In the wake of the smash Broadway revival of "An Inspector Calls" comes this production, directed by playwright David Mamet, of an earlier (1932), more obscure play by J. B. Priestley. A group of young English friends gather at a country home after someone they know has committed suicide. In their efforts to figure out what happened, secrets are unearthed until the truth becomes a highly elusive and variable concept. Unfortunately, the young performers of the Atlantic Theater Company lack the skills to carry the piece off, and Mamet has directed it in a flat, monochromatic style.
GARDEN DISTRICT (Circle in the Square): Two one-act, middle-period plays by Tennessee Williams, presented for the first time together in New York since 1958. The curtain raiser, "Something Unspoken," is a slight piece about the relationship between a society matron (Myra Carter) and her personal secretary (Pamela Payton-Wright). "Suddenly Last Summer" (which you may recall from the Hepburn/- Clift/Taylor film version) is the lurid tale of a young man's unfortunate fate at the hands of hustlers, and his mother's desperate attempts to preserve his reputation afterward. The play suffers from awkward staging, and in the lead roles, both Elizabeth Ashley and Jordan Baker go too far over the top.