THE HANGOVER REPORT – Greg Pierce’s CARDINAL at Second Stage is daffy satire until it isn’t

Anna Chlumsky and Adam Pally in Greg Pierce's "Cardinal" at Second Stage Theatre.

Anna Chlumsky and Adam Pally in Greg Pierce’s “Cardinal” at Second Stage Theatre.

Tonight, Greg Pierce’s new play Cardinal opened at Off-Broadway’s Second Stage Theatre. The piece is, on the surface, most identifiable as a satire on the death of traditional American values and small town life. But on another level, Cardinal is perhaps more effectively an allegory on the failings – or at least the inefficiencies – of contemporary American politics to get the job done. In the end, either way, no one ends up the winner, despite the purist of intentions.

Mr. Pierce’s play is largely an agreeably daffy satire until it isn’t. As the play draws to its conclusion, I couldn’t help but feel that the playwright was desperately throwing the kitchen sink at the audience to create some sort of palpable drama and gravitas. As a result, the final scenes seem stunted and emotionally forced, even unresolved. Nevertheless, I had a good time at Cardinal, thanks in large part to director Kate Whoriskey’s light but sure touch throughout.

The cast is pretty good all around. Veep‘s Anna Chlumsky appealingly played a woman bent on saving her home town at almost any cost, even by literally coating the entire town in red paint and brashly collaborating with incompatible business partners. The ageless Ms. Chlumsky did a wonderful job of creating a leading character that’s both annoying but one whom we can cheer for. As her love interest-cum-nemesis, who also happens to be the town’s mayor, Happy Ending’s Adam Pally was an amusing foil.



Off-Broadway, Play
Second Stage Theatre
1 hour, 35 minutes (without an intermission)
Through February 25

Categories: Off-Broadway, Theater

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