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Play review: Visiting Mr. Green--World Premiere

Eli Wallach stars in world premiere at Berkshire Theatre Festival (play review).

Written by Jeff Baron, Directed by John Rando
Berkshire Theatre Festival
Stockbridge, MA, USA
June 20-July 6, 1996

Reviewed by Shel Horowitz

Eli Wallach, as Mr. Green, carries this world premiere to unexpected heights in a stellar performance of a great new play.

The script, crowded both with humor and pathos, chronicles the relationship of two men: a cantankerous, disoriented 86-year-old widower living in poverty in a New York City apartment, and a 25-year-old gay corporate executive. Brought together by court order after the younger man drives into Mr. Green as he crosses the street, they have conflicts in lifestyle, values, and expectations. Mr. Green is a packrat, surrounded by months of unread mail, decades of crumbling telephone books--and an isolation anchored only by his traditional Judaism. Ross, also Jewish but not observant, is a neat freak and a spendthrift. After a rocky start--"You hit me with your car and now you're standing in my kitchen yelling at me?"--the two learn not only to coexist but to peel back the layers of their emotions, face their own demons, and use each other's strengths to conquer them.

Though saddled with a couple of plot points that strain credulity--living where he does, Mr. Green would lock his door, and Ross's closeted life doesn't fit well with his gay militancy--these are minor quarrels in an exceptional night of theater. Both actors give great performances, but Wallach shows us where his reputation comes from. He can convey volumes with a twitch of the shoulder, a raise of an eyebrow. Highly recommended.

Shel Horowitz, Editor of Global Travel Review and owner of, is the author of the e-book, The Penny-Pinching Hedonist: How to Live Like Royalty with a Peasant's Pocketbook, and the creator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign.

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