The Wayside Motor Inn OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Ruth Fremson
  • NY TIMES

  • EW

  • DAILY NEWS

  • HUFFPOST

  • TM

Opening Night:
September 4, 2014
Closing:
October 5, 2014

Theater: Signature Theatre / 555 West 42nd. St., New York, NY,

Synopsis: 

Outside Boston, ten people—some strangers, some not—struggle with the circumstances that have brought them to the Wayside Motor Inn. With old grudges and new feuds threatening the travelers’ peace, this funny and moving work kicks off A. R. Gurney’s Signature Residency by examining the tenuous space between loneliness and connection, and the fragile framework of the American Dream.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Wayside Motor Inn

    Strangers in the Night, No Glances A Revival of A. R. Gurney’s ‘Wayside Motor Inn’

    Charles Isherwood

    September 5, 2014: The lives of people in transit intersect without actually touching in The Wayside Motor Inn, a minor-key but cleverly constructed play by the veteran A. R. Gurney, being revived by the Signature Theater Company. From our point of view, the characters seem to share the same space, a tidy but soul-crushingly generic room in a motel on the outskirts of Boston. But we soon gather that each of the play’s five pairs of characters occupy different rooms. Their stories — of broken marriages, sexual ambivalence, late-life malaise, father-son conflict — are merely superimposed upon one another so that they seem to be taking place simultaneously. The concept is more complicated and more avant-garde in theory than in practice. (Mr. Gurney has said he was inspired by the work of the British playwright Alan Ayckbourn, who has played nifty tricks on theatergoers’ perceptions throughout his own long career.) The stories slide in and out of focus quite naturally, with one set of characters hitting a higher pitch of drama, while the others are either in another part of the room — on the balcony, in the bathroom — or merely sitting idle on a bed, brooding over their own travails. Thanks to the nicely choreographed direction of Lila Neugebauer — and a fine cast — nobody steps on anyone’s toes, metaphorically or otherwise. With the dialogue sometimes overlapping, the play unfolds with a loose-jointed but natural vibe, in the manner of a Robert Altman movie from his heyday, in the late 1970s, when the play is set. (It was first produced off Broadway by Manhattan Theater Club in 1977.)

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  • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY REVIEW OF The Wayside Motor Inn

    The Wayside Motor Inn

    Melissa Rose Bernardo

    September 5, 2014: One hotel room, 10 characters, five simultaneous subplots, one night: If it weren't for the glaring lack of British accents, you'd swear The Wayside Motor Inn was an Alan Ayckbourn play. Of course, the smiling photo of 83-year-old A.R. Gurney on the Playbill cover is another giveaway. You know you're at Off Broadway's Pershing Square Signature Center to see a revival of a 1978 work by America's most prolific dramatist, who in 2013 turned out play No. 53. But the interwoven construction is straight out of Ayckbourn, the indefatigable 75-year-old Englishman who's penned 78 full-length plays himself. And that's a fine place to be. Gurney fans may feel a little displaced for a couple other reasons. The setting is Boston not the playwright's usual haunts in Buffalo, N.Y., or its environs. And the motel's denizens—empty-nest seniors Frank and Jessie (Jon DeVries and Lizbeth Mackay), oily sales rep Ray (Quincy Dunn-Baker) and wisecracking waitress Sharon (Jenn Lyon), and more—aren't his usual WASP subjects. It just might be the most un-Gurney Gurney play you'll ever see—which makes Wayside all the more captivating. (On a related note, his late '80s two-character hit Love Letters begins performances on Broadway Sept. 13.)

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Wayside Motor Inn

    A.R. Gurney's 1977 comedy-drama features multiple story lines unspooling in a motel room; topnotch performances keep it all intact

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    September 5, 2014: So many stock characters show up at The Wayside Motor Inn that you wish you could hang a No Vacancy sign. And then get room service to get rid of the overstated themes. Fortunately, though, top-notch performances keep you from requesting an early check-out during Signature’s new production of A.R. Gurney’s 1977 comedy-drama. As with his 1982 breakthrough, The Dining Room, Gurney built this play around a smart conceit. There’s one set — in this case, a motel room outside Boston — and multiple story strands unspool individually but concurrently. There’s a symphonic effect. Ray (Quincy Dunn-Baker) is a bored salesman with a wife and a thing for other women. He sics himself on a no-nonsense chambermaid (Jenn Lyon). New grandparents Frank (Jon DeVries) and Jessie (Lizbeth Mackay) constantly push each other’s buttons. Frank’s short temper doesn’t help his chest pains.

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  • HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW OF The Wayside Motor Inn

    Musicalized 'Red Eye of Love,' Gurney's 'Wayside Motor Inn' Short of Must-Sees

    David Finkle

    September 5, 2014: In the revival of The Wayside Motor Inn, A. R. Gurney's 1977 play, at The Pershing Square Signature Center, Ray (Quincy Dunn-Baker) strides onto set designer Andrew Lieberman's amusing take on a Jimmy Carter-era bad-taste motel room. Ray is agitated. Shortly after that, Frank (Jon DeVries) and Jessie (Lizbeth Mackay) come through the door. They're in a quiet tizzy to which Ray doesn't react. For a second, the effect is confusing, but only for a second. The ah-hah moment quickly hits. Ray, trying to get a business matter settled on the phone, is in one room at the Cambridge establishment; Frank and Jessie, having marital disturbances concerning her distracted nature and his health, are in another. So when father-son combo Vince (Marc Kudisch) and Mark (Will Pullen), then young unmarried-but-thinking-about-it Phil (David McElwee) and Sally (Ismenia Mendes), then also agitated Andy (Kelly AuCoin) drag their valises into the same space, it's clear they're all in different spaces and not getting onto the twin beds, checking the view from the balcony or using the bathroom together. They're living out their problems simultaneously in a dramedy that has the feel of an Alan Ayckbourn conceit but as it unfolds doesn't rise to the English playwright's level. Gurney's premise is catchy, but he doesn't go far enough with it. Not only that, Unfortunately, his characters aren't sufficiently engaging.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Wayside Motor Inn

    Ten lives in one room — in '70s fashion

    Pete Hempstead

    September 5, 2014: When A.R. Gurney's 10-character play The Wayside Motor Inn premiered in New York in 1977, audiences watched in bafflement and critics drew their knives. In an introductory note to a published edition of the play, Gurney admits as much and offers an explanation: "I'm afraid my fascination with the play's complicated structure...made it more a puzzle to be solved than a play to be performed." Theatergoers have learned to handle plenty of "complicated" dramas since. In fact, they'll probably find Signature Theatre's new production not only comprehensible but riveting. Add to that 10 top-notch performances, and you've got an engrossing two hours of theater. The play comprises five separate stories, each involving two people who are staying in different rooms at the lodging of the play's title. All the action, however, takes place in one typical motel room — designed by Andrew Lieberman with 1970s browns and greens and oranges and furnished with two double beds, a writing desk, a couple of chairs, and a television. The play's ordinary people hash out their problems, unfailingly familiar human struggles: first love, adultery, youthful rebellion, toxic marital relationships, growing old, and loneliness, as they drift past one another, their stories intermingled on a sunny afternoon in a town just outside Boston.

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The Wayside Motor Inn Review REVIEWS

Opening Night:
Closing:
Open Ended

Theater:

Synopsis: 

One hotel room, 10 characters, five simultaneous subplots, one night: If it weren't for the glaring lack of British accents, you'd swear The Wayside Motor Inn was an Alan Ayckbourn play. Of course, the smiling photo of 83-year-old A.R. Gurney on the Playbill cover is another giveaway. You know you're at Off Broadway's Pershing Square Signature Center to see a revival of a 1978 work by America's most prolific dramatist, who in 2013 turned out play No. 53. But the interwoven construction is straight out of Ayckbourn, the indefatigable 75-year-old Englishman who's penned 78 full-length plays himself. And that's a fine place to be. Gurney fans may feel a little displaced for a couple other reasons. The setting is Boston not the playwright's usual haunts in Buffalo, N.Y., or its environs. And the motel's denizens—empty-nest seniors Frank and Jessie (Jon DeVries and Lizbeth Mackay), oily sales rep Ray (Quincy Dunn-Baker) and wisecracking waitress Sharon (Jenn Lyon), and more—aren't his usual WASP subjects. It just might be the most un-Gurney Gurney play you'll ever see—which makes Wayside all the more captivating. (On a related note, his late '80s two-character hit Love Letters begins performances on Broadway Sept. 13.)

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