The Evildoers at Yale Rep
As always at Yale Rep, the set is spectacular. And the acting is superb, with a seasoned, top-notch cast. It’s the play itself that sucks—surprisingly, given Adjmi’s credits.
The cast comprises two couples. The husbands were schoolmates, and yet one couple comes across as nearly a generation older than the other, setting up an inescapable sense that the first act is channeling the ghost of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in tone and subtext.
If that description intrigues you, rent the movie (Who’s Afraid…) rather than attend The Evildoers. But if you feel a perverse compulsion to attend, at least have the good sense to leave at the intermission. You do not want to be around for the figurative and literal bloodbath that is the second act. Suffice it to say, I may never order tongue in a deli again.
The program notes provide a clue to where this train ran off the rails. If you read interviews with playwrights, you get the sense that an idea may kick around in the back of their heads for a long time, and perhaps there are a few false starts. But once the writing is well under way, it doesn’t generally take all that long to finish. For this one, though, Adjmi seems to have burned through about a dozen foundation grants and a season at a writing colony, which suggests that perhaps he was struggling a bit, do you think? On top of that, he acknowledges the contribution of nine, count ’em, nine dramaturgs. Normally a production involves one dramaturg or sometimes two. Burning through nine suggests, um, creative differences, perhaps?
In any case, there will not be a quiz later on The Evildoers.