THE HANGOVER REPORT – Robert O’Hara’s disappointing MANKIND is ambitious but poorly realized

Bobby Moreno and Anson Mount in Robert O'Hara's "Mankind" at Playwrights Horizons.

Bobby Moreno and Anson Mount in Robert O’Hara’s “Mankind” at Playwrights Horizons.

This afternoon, I caught up with Robert O’Hara’s Mankind at Playwrights Horizons. I really wanted to like this new play. I had though Mr. O’Hara’s ferocious breakthrough play Bootycandy was bold, hilarious, and theatrically potent (I saw it both at the Woolly Mammoth in Washington, DC, as well as at Playwrights Horizons). To a lesser degree, his Barbecue at the Public Theater was conceptually ambitious and mostly successful in its execution.

Which brings us to Mankind. As a sucker for allegorical science fiction scenarios, my appetite was whetted when I first heard the play’s premise – at some point in the future, womankind becomes extinct, leaving only men to carry on humanity. When two men, Jason and Mark, find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy, they attempt to have it aborted, which sets off a cataclysmic and unlikely chain of events that changes their lives and the face of society at large. Religion, the media, politics, and, of course, men, are targets of Mr. O’Hara’s futuristic satire. The problem is that the play feels like it’s trying too hard to shock and awe with its ideas at the consequence of developing its characters. As a result, Mankind is neither funny nor ultimately very engaging. In fact, it’s a long two hours.

The production, directed a tad sluggishly by the playwright himself, is at least fascinating to look at – the rotating, shape-shifting set is by Clint Ramos, the atmospheric lighting is by Alex Jainchill, and the inventive, witty costume design is by Dede M. Ayite. The all-male cast is fine, too. In the central roles of Jason and Mark, Bobby Moreno and Anson Mount, respectively, try their very best to inject bite into Mr. O’Hara’s disappointing script. But, alas …



Off-Broadway, Play
Playwrights Horizons
1 hour, 55 minutes (with one intermission)
Through January 28

Categories: Off-Broadway, Theater

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