One Hand Clapping OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Emma Phillipson
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    May 8, 2015
    Closing:
    May 31, 2015

    Theater: 59E59 Theaters / 59 East 59th St., New York, NY, 10022

    Synopsis: 

    Howard and Janet Shirley live an average, humdrum life in an average Northern town in England. But Howard has an anything-but-average talent: a photographic memory that he uses to win a TV quiz show. With his winnings, he and Janet travel the world in style, seeing everything they can. But upon their return, a disillusioned Howard makes a sinister proposition to Janet. Adapted from Anthony Burgess' (author of 'A Clockwork Orange') 1961 novel, this darkly comic story is a hilarious and provocative condemnation of culture and the modern world.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF One Hand Clapping

    ‘One Hand Clapping,’ a Darkly Comic Story of Consumerism

    Neil Genzlinger

    May 18, 2015: Probing the shallow consumerism of the 1950s and ’60s has been a popular pastime of late, but “One Hand Clapping,” at 59E59 Theaters, reminds us that the “Mad Men” culture was mocked practically before it had even fully materialized. This play, part of the Brits Off Broadway festival, is Lucia Cox’s adaptation of a 1961 novel by Anthony Burgess (who was best known for the book “A Clockwork Orange”). If its darkly comic story doesn’t seem especially insightful today, it’s because so many others have mined the same territory in the past 54 years. When we first meet them, the humorless Howard (Oliver Devoti) and seemingly vacuous Janet (Eve Burley) are living an utterly ordinary British life despite Howard’s unusual gift: He has a photographic memory. Their unremarkable existence changes when he goes on a game show and wins a pile of money, then uses it to make an even bigger pile of money, because it turns out he also has a gift for predicting the results of horse races. Howard, though, has an odd mix of ideas about wealth accumulation; he has a grim view of materialism, yet at the same time he wants to spend the money as fast as he makes it. “We’ve got to have everything money can buy, that’s what we’ve got to do,” he tries to explain to Janet. “It’s a sort of duty.”

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