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Shove 

The director keeps things brisk, but there's no consistent tone

Wednesday, May 3 2006
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Never trust a group of 12 people who aren't smart enough to get out of jury duty — and certainly don't trust a woman who wants to be on jury duty for the rest of her life. In the uneven Shove, we learn that recent juror Genette had a transformative experience convincing her fellow jurors that the defendant, Lowell, wasn't guilty of shoving a woman in front of an oncoming subway car. She's so proud of her accomplishment that she grabs her "peer," Sheldon, and tracks Lowell down to relive all the good times. The problem is that Genette has a thing for wacko loner psychopaths, and Lowell might just be crazy enough to murder someone. This is a show about the isolated, silently suffering members of the working class and the desperation of urban runaways who can't run away from themselves. It's fertile territory, and the best moments of Shove summon a compelling menace out of everyday activities — giving a hug, waiting for public transpo. The director keeps things brisk, and the well-cast actors appear committed; the catch is that the playwright and the production can't find a consistent tone. Ostensibly, Shove is a dark comedy, but the comedic elements dissipate any dramatic stakes (and vice versa). Ultimately, we're not able to overcome our doubt — reasonable or otherwise.

About The Author

Frank Wortham

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