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Off-Broadway Review: Billy Crudup Returns as "Harry Clarke"

Harry Clarke

Written by David Cale; directed by Leigh Silverman

Performances through May 13, 2018


Billy Crudup in Harry Clarke (photo: Carol Rosegg)

When I first saw David Cale’s solo play Harry Clarke last fall, I found it clever and disturbing, energized by Billy Crudup’s tour de force performance in the title role and several others. Seeing it again, it seems more like a flimsy conceit enlivened by dark humor and enough variety to give a good actor like Crudup the chance to plow through several accents and personalities.


There’s also a feeling that Crudup has begun hamming it up a bit; of course, there’s an element of hamminess to begin with, since Harry’s the alter ego of one Philip Brugglestein from Indiana, who at age 18 moves to New York after his parents’ deaths and assumes the voice and mannerisms of this posh Britisher whom Philip invented as a lonely child. This disguise frees him to become another person entirely, and he soon finds himself improbably fooling an entire family—an equally posh bunch of WASPs from Connecticut, who have a yacht called Jewish American Princess—turning all of their lives upside down, with ultimately fatal consequences.


Crudup is alternately charming and repulsive as the increasingly obnoxious Harry and the Schmidt family: son Mark, daughter Stephanie and Sade-loving Mom. Director Leigh Silverman brings a welcome pace to the increasingly contrived and ultimately paper-thin proceedings. But at least Crudup—even when overacting—makes us want to find out what this bastard is going to do next.


Harry Clarke

Minetta Lane Theatre, 18 Minetta Lane, New York, NY


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