Chinese Coffee OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Bobby Caputo
  • NY TIMES

  • S & C

  • HUFFPOST

  • THEATRE IS EASY

  • TALKIN' BWAY

Opening Night:
September 24, 2014
Closing:
October 3, 2014

Theater: Roy Arias Stage II / 300 W. 43rd Street, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10036

Synopsis: 

This intriguing character study follows two middle-aged best friends as their volatile relationship comes to a head. "Chinese Coffee is the kind of talkathon drama—two guys slugging it out in a wordfest mixture of disclosure and recrimination—that Strindberg once made so peculiarly his own…What is important is how cleverly Lewis has drawn these characters." — NY Post.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Chinese Coffee

    A Prickly Friendship Endures, Even as Luck Wears Thin In ‘Chinese Coffee,’ Louise Lasser Directs Austin Pendleton

    Rachel Saltz

    September 30, 2014: Chinese Coffee, at the Roy Arias Stage II Theater, is an actors’ evening. It’s directed by a wonderful one,Louise Lasser (an ad for her acting studio is on the back of the program); features a very busy one, Austin Pendleton (himself a fine director); and was performed on Friday night for an audience stocked with lots of other ones, overheard discussing rehearsals, the odd one-woman musical and excellent directors around town. So, here’s to actors, although perhaps not so much to Chinese Coffee, Ira Lewis’s two-hander, whose appeal may be stronger for actors than for audiences. (More actorly cred: Al Pacino starred in a Broadway production, and directed a movie version, with himself and Jerry Orbach, in 2000.) The play has two meaty roles in Jake (Mr. Pendleton) and Harry (Sean Walsh), New York down-and-outers of the artistic sort who talk and talk late into a winter’s night. But at 100 minutes or so, it feels uncomfortably like a long one-act, an extended pas de deux about a prickly friendship.

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  • STAGE AND CINEMA REVIEW OF Chinese Coffee

    WHEN BEING A STARVING WRITER IS NO LONGER ROMANTIC

    Dmitry Zvonkov

    September 27, 2014: Austin Pendleton’s breathtaking performance and Ira Lewis’s penetrating script make Chinese Coffee, with all its flaws, a most worthwhile outing. In fact, at $18 a ticket, this show, directed by Louise Lasser, is all but mandatory viewing for lovers of personal, intimate theater, as well as for any intellectually-minded individual with artistic aspirations. Alone in his shabby Greenwich Village studio at 1:15 in the morning, 51-year-old photographer Jacob (“Jake”) Manheim (Mr. Pendleton) seems restless; a knock on the door heralds the arrival of his 44-year-old starving-writer friend Harry Levine (Sean Walsh). Harry’s come to collect the $473 that Jake owes him. He’s also come to ask what Jake thought of his new novel, the manuscript of which he’d given to him sometime earlier. What follows is a loving but brutal dissection of these two intelligent and talented failures and their relationship.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF Chinese Coffee

    Ira Lewis's 'Chinese Coffee'

    David Finkle

    September 29, 2014: In Ira Lewis's Chinese Coffee, the revived two-hander at the Roy Arias II, it's the freezing wee hours when Jake (Austin Pendleton) reluctantly responds to the banging on the door of his small apartment. Half-heartedly, he welcomes novelist Harry (Sean Walsh). Harry initially wants the money Jake owes him since the preceding May 28, but it comes out he's really there to learn what Jake thinks of his latest novel. At first, Jake, who's had the manuscript for some time, claims he hasn't read it, but after being relentlessly badgered, admits he has gone through it and strongly disapproves of what he found. He objects to its autobiographical slant, an unfair and unauthorized appropriation of the Jake-Harry friendship. Moreover, he announces that had things gone better for him, now that he's 50, he would have been a great novelist. Then he insists that Harry, at 46, is washed up. This throws an understandable damper on what they've previously called their best-friends status.

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  • THEATRE IS EASY REVIEW OF Chinese Coffee

    Two friends have an intense all-night conversation which changes the course of their friendship and their future.

    Teddy Nicholas

    September 28, 2014: On a cold winter night at 1:00am in '80s Greenwich Village, Jake Manheim (Austin Pendleton) frantically paces around his apartment. Occasionally he picks up a copy of Tolstoy’s Letters, not so much to read but as to distract himself of the inevitable arrival of his longtime friend Harry Levine (Sean Walsh). When Levin arrives demanding money owed to him by Manheim, what starts out as a quietly tense late-night confrontation spirals into a soul searching night which tests their friendship. Levine, a forty-four-year-old struggling writer who was recently fired from his job as a doorman in a French restaurant, is hard up for cash. Manheim, in his fifties, has only a jar of pennies and black coffee to offer him. After some unfinished business about a credit card loan Levine gave Manheim, the focus shifts to Levine’s manuscript, his latest novel based on their friendship. Levine asks Manheim for his criticism. What he gets instead is a lot more than he bargained for including some blunt truths about his talent and his life choices.

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  • TALKIN' BROADWAY REVIEW OF Chinese Coffee

    Chinese Coffee Theatre Review

    Howard Miller

    September 28, 2014: Ah, New York. If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. But what if, despite all of your talent and all of your efforts, you can’t seem to make it here? What if Jake, one half of the middle-aged pair whose friendship is on trial in the revival of Ira Lewis’s Chinese Coffee at the Roy Arias Stage II Theater, is right when he says that New York “chews up what’s the best in us . . . so that anything we’re left with is undefined, ill-formed, and almost completely without signs of visible life”? Chinese Coffee - funny, philosophic, and occasionally long-winded - is a perfect reflection of its two characters, splendidly embodied by Austin Pendleton as the anxious, neurotic, and angry Jake, and Sean Walsh as the anxious, neurotic, and hypochondriacal Harry.

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