WRECKS: 100% Sweet – UPDATED

Photos: Ed Harris in "Wrecks." Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

SWEET
Yet, thanks to Harris’ Herculean acting feat, the contrived ending almost becomes beside the point. Harris’ portrayal of Edward Carr, a grieving middle-aged Midwestern man at a funeral parlor, sorting through complex feelings following his wife’s death, works on basic human levels that stand apart from the tacked-on story twist. Never mind that the late-arriving information raises serious questions about Edward’s morality. LaBute has chosen not to explore these issues. So we perhaps should disregard them, as well, and focus on savoring the nuances of Harris’ multifaceted portrait of passion, grief, and resignation.
Les Spindle – Backstage

SWEET
It helps to have a performer as charismatic as Harris to lead us down this shadowy road. His charm holds out the promise of normality, even as it hints at something darker. This sly paradox serves Edward Carr’s strange story extraordinarily well, and LaBute’s faultless staging makes the most of the sinister synergy.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
Playwright LaBute in his director’s hat keeps the play moving and the actor in motion. After it’s over and you see what the title really means and Harris gets his standing ovation, we say the same thing. He was wonderful but the play, that fragile piece, would it hold up without him? Delicate and tender, a sidestep for LaBute, it’s controversial. At the end of the day, given the secrets Ed kept and the love they shared, it’s worth it to him.
Laura Hitchcock – CurtainUp

SWEET
He has a blazingly clear reason to be so private, and that’s the melodramatic revelation near play’s end that forces us to confront the definition of love, and how that definition rubs up against social propriety. I didn’t buy that revelation, not within the colloquial, ruminative and realistic confines of LaBute’s direction. But that’s a small matter. The big matter is the gorgeous combination of LaBute’s digressive and piercingly insightful love letter with Harris’ tender-furious child-like and ultimately profound interpretation. Ed Carr is a bit like a chain-smoking Dostoevskian narrator, who, while drifting onto free-associated topics and bilious commentary (on anti-smoking campaigns, for example), he is, finally, on message. And his message about the essence of love is upsetting and unimpeachable in the same breath.
Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

SWEET
One-man plays run the risk of being tedious, especially if the running time is 80 minutes. In this case, Harris’ tour de force performance manages to fill every moment with excitement, giving a flawless, deeply emotional performance. Whether he’s puffing on a cigarette or gently wiping the casket with his handkerchief or gazing into the eyes of audience members, Harris has a tight grip on the audience, whose participation he expects from time to time.
Beverly Cohn – Santa Monica Mirror

SWEET
Sometimes, the truest things happen when we least expect them. We may even turn away and, a moment later, look back and wonder if we really saw what we think we saw, if we really heard what we thought we heard. It is hard to talk about Neil LaBute’s Wrecks without revealing its secrets, but we must not reveal them and, instead, try to resurrect the many quiet and honest moments that lead up to its revelations. They are so deceptively simple that they, too, could be easily overlooked. But putting them together, those moments become privileged indeed. Indeed. One of those words Edward Carr, the hero of LaBute’s play, says we never use but which he finds himself using just the same. Indeed.
Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema

BITTERSWEET
While Wrecks serves as an expansive vehicle for Ed Harris, its only actor, it’s frustrating to hear only the one character’s thoughts about a very knotty relationship. I missed not only the late wife’s perspective, but also that of their children. I can’t say much of anything else, without giving away the play’s one humongous secret, but let’s just say that Wrecks relies on the shock value of that secret more than on anything the character says.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch

SWEET
When Neil LaBute has his mojo working – as he has in Bash, Autobahn, and Fat Pig – his storytelling can lead unsuspecting listeners down a primrose path and right into a very uncomfortable spot. When it isn’t working – as was the case with Some Girls(s) – it’s just uncomfortable. With Wrecks, a play he has directed in Ireland in 2005, New York in 2006, and now at the Geffen (through March 14), he’s back expertly laying the kind of unremarkable groundwork that pays off in an unforgettably twisted tale.
Cristofer Gross – Theatertimes

BITTERSWEET
Harris does a masterful job, raging across the stage and exhibiting the many moods of a man bereft. But the play is somehow static, and Harris doesn’t succeed in engaging either your interest or your sympathy. Even with the surprise ending, which seems a rather tacked-on gimmick that doesn’t come as that much of a surprise by the time he gets to it.
Cynthia Citron – Reviewplays

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