POOR BEHAVIOR (MARK TAPER): 73% – BITTERSWEET

Johanna Day and Reg Rogers in "Poor Behavior" at the Mark Taper Forum. Credit: Craig Schwartz/Center Theatre Group.

SWEET
Poor Behavior’s talented quartet of actors engage in a wonderful game of verbal volleyball, taking place in the wonderful world of he said, she said, bouncing from one character to the next, without any signs of any performer dropping the ball. Johanna Day, Sharon Lawrence, Reg Rogers and Christopher Evan Welch work as a finely tuned ensemble, delivering delightful and highly humor performances.
Keisha7 – LASplash

SWEET
Doug Hughes’ rock-solid direction and four finely calibrated performances capture the raucous hilarity and profoundly sad undercurrents of this incisive work.
Les Spindle – Backstage

BITTERSWEET
Rebeck, an accomplished TV writer and novelist as well as a prolific playwright (“The Understudy,” “Mauritius,” co-author of “Omnium Gatherum”), has cooked up an intriguing premise, but unfortunately this thinking person’s farce is glued to sitcom tracks.
Charles McNulty – LA Times

SWEET
The tension between the morality being earnestly talked out, and the immorality being farcically played out, makes the “Poor Behavior” experience always compelling but strangely grim. And not always in a “good” way.
Bob Verini – Variety

BITTERSWEET
The writing of the play is great, though unfortunately, it is not consistently conveyed by the actors. Both Reg Rogers and Christopher Evan Welch are great as Ian and Peter, respectively, but both Johanna Day and Sharon Lawrence’s performances leave something to be desired.
Katie Buenneke – Neon Tommy

SWEET
Now onstage at the Mark Taper Forum, Poor Behavior is tautly directed, consummately acted theatre not to be missed.
Don Grigware – BroadwayWorld

SWEET
Actions speak louder than words in Theresa Rebeck’s frequently hilarious and occasionally insightful new play, Poor Behavior, now in its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum. And that’s saying something, for Rebeck’s words can be sharp as knives and just as easily cause serious wounds.
Terri Roberts – TheaterMania

BITTER
Playwright Rebeck is writing in the vein of Neil LaBute’s moral abandon, where an audience is shocked by the inhumane actions of the characters. Trouble is in Poor Behavior we never really learn about what makes these people tick and there’s nothing terribly shocking. Infidelity is simply a device and Rebeck never really takes responsibility. It’s all surface with no real depth. A friend summed it up best after the show, “Morally bankrupt and vacuous,…but funny.”
Anthony Byrnes – Opening the Curtain

BITTERSWEET
The larger issue is what differentiates a sitcom from a more exploratory work. The sitcom — with the singular motivation of its protagonist, and the calculated procession of character collisions, like the strategically envisioned, ricocheting motions of billiard balls — reveals the playwright’s apparent hand, the clear sense that the action is being manipulated with an Agatha Christie-like design rather than unfolding as eerily as life does. This is where the comedy’s allusions to moral philosophy look like so much set decoration, and why this play of ideas, like Ian, is merely pretending.
Steven Leigh Morris – LA Weekly

BITTER
The whole experience becomes superfluous, available, as it is, virtually every evening in our own living rooms, if we have nothing else to do.
Madeleine Shaner – Park La Brea News/Beverly Press (opens in pdf)

SWEET
John Lee Beatty has done a superb job on the cozy cottage that’s the embodiment of home. Ben Stanton’s lighting design reinforces it, from twilight to midnight to morning. Doug Hughes directs with his finger on the pulse of the rollicking pace of the play that never lets up. This is sustained by Reg Rogers as Ian. His tumbling lines run over each other, as Ian is a character that never stops talking. He’s always on. Despite a desperate need to get out of his marriage, he seems to be excusing himself, much like the state of marriage in this country. He finally persuades Ella to come along.
Laura Hitchcock – CurtainUp

SWEET
“Poor Behavior” is wickedly funny but asks some scary, dark questions about the goodness, semiotics, marriage and just what is good behavior.
Jana J. Monji – LA Examiner

SWEET
Doug Hughes’ assured direction does a marvelous job of keeping a talky show visually compelling via very active staging, and he’s gotten great work from his cast. Rebeck impresses with sheer quantity and quality of wit, channeling aspects of Coward and Stoppard but giving it her own bitter twist.
Terry Morgan – LAist

SWEET
Through it all come foundational discussions about the nature of goodness – whether it exists and what it may be. For those trapped in this story, where some people do exhibit (to say the least) “Poor Behavior,” this becomes a foundational argument. In the end the take-aways will be long conversations on marriage, relationship, and that essential definition – whether anything can be classified as good. And in the meantime, you will have laughed heartily at it all.
Frances Baum Nicholson – The Stage Struck Review

SWEET
The opening night audience loved it, precisely because it provokes understandable pangs along with its nonstop tumult, while effectively surrounding the individual combat with a rat-a-tat of ideas about such targets as national character, religious assumptions and the dubious pleasure of comfort zones.
Rita Moran – VC Star

SWEET
Its hard edge and withering tone makes Poor Behavior a masterpiece of both overstatement and understatement. One’s disposition towards it will depend on how gladly you suffer monsters, but, if you willingly go with it, it will surely put you in touch with your own private monster.
Harvey Perr – Stage and Cinema

BITTERSWEET
Interestingly enough, Poor Behavior was inspired by a similar trip that writer Theresa Rebeck took with friends. Let this be a lesson to those of us who travel with other couples. Make sure you truly know the people you invite to your country house or all hell can break loose, marriages can dissolve and nervous breakdowns can and will emerge.
Jenny Platt – Socal

SWEET
This show, though dark, is amusing and the characters relatable, often times a mirror of familiar personalities and situations in our own lives. I highly recommend it!
Ximena Herschberg – Campus Circle

SWEET
Nevertheless, Poor Behavior is well worth seeing.
Pauline Adamek – ArtsBeatLA

SWEET
From the moment the lights come on to the final curtain call, this remarkably proficient company commands the stage with brilliant nonstop banter, courtesy of gifted playwright Theresa Rebeck. Magnificently directed by expert Doug Hughes, the audience remains engaged and captivated, cheering and chuckling continuously. The underlying theme, “what is goodness” is a concept theatergoers can contemplate long after the evening ends.
Debra Graff – Valley Scene Magazine

SWEET
While it might not be Rebeck’s best work, Poor Behavior unsettles even as it entertains. Always a good combination.
Christopher Cappiello – Frontiers

SWEET
In Poor Behavior the dialogue is laugh-out-loud funny, the acting is superb, and the outcome is inevitable and sad, but not totally devastating.
Cynthia Citron – LA Examiner

BITTERSWEET
Regarding Theresa Rebeck’s Poor Behavior, I’ll just add that I was not surprised to see yet another Center Theatre Group production about relationship problems among early-middle aged New Yorkers, but I was happy to see Anthony Byrnes join me in noticing how Michael Ritchie’s obsession with all things New York may be preventing CTG theatergoers from seeing what’s going on around LA.
Don Shirley – LA Stage Watch

BITTER
By the time a pseudo suspension of hostilities occurred, frankly my dear, I didn’t give a damn.
Karen Weinstein – Culture Vulture

BITTERSWEET
The jokes, good as they are, begin to repeat and wear thin over the course of the play, revealing the sitcom bones beneath the skin. The actors get laughs throughout, though– as an ensemble they are, perhaps, better than the play.
Willard Manus – Total Theater

SWEET
Caveats included, this enjoyably vibrant production should be seen.
Jon Magaril – Stagehappenings

POOR BEHAVIOR
Mark Taper Forum
Los Angeles Music Center
135 N. Grand Ave., L.A.
8 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturdays, 1 and 6:30 p.m. Sundays
Ends Oct. 16, 2011
Tickets: $20-$65; (213) 628-2772
Running time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

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