Portray the city pink is slang for celebrating in type, however the phrase takes on a decidedly literal that means in “Cardinal,” a farfetched and muddled play at Second Stage providing little motive to have a good time.
Anna Chlumsky (“Veep,” “You Can’t Take It With You”) stars as Lydia Lensky, a failed band supervisor who returns to her financially strapped upstate New York hometown and seeks to draw vacationers and rejuvenate it by portray the downtown space cardinal pink.
Chicken-brained? Possibly. In case you paint it, they may come.
Unfolding on a spare grey brick set that conveys numerous locales, the story begins out as a take a look at the impression of the colourful urban-renewal scheme on numerous folks. That features Mayor Jeff Torm (Adam Pally), who, like town, is depressed. He shares sophisticated historical past with Lydia.
There are Manhattan father-and-son builders Li-Wei Chen (Stephen Park) and Jason Chen (Eugene Younger), who seize Lydia’s thought for their very own achieve. And there’s locals Nancy Prenchel (a plausible Becky Ann Baker, the present’s MVP), who runs a bakery together with her mildly autistic grownup son, Nat (Alex Harm).
In case you paint it, they may come undone.
Playwright Greg Pierce (the high quality“Slowgirl,” the less-fine “Child Victory,” ) writes witty dialogue, however he forsakes a cardinal rule of storytelling. There must be a shred of fact to characters and conditions. An excessive amount of rings false as “Cardinal” speeds forward in sitcom-style fast-mo — from Lydia’s motivations to timelines to logic to the methods metropolis governments work. The play’s level turns ever murkier as subplots about racial stereotyping, love and intercourse and generational expectations are briefly touched on.
Directed by Kate Whoriskey (“Sweat,” “Ruined”), actors are largely in go-big-or-go-home mode. Chlumsky is monochromatic. And pity Pally (“Glad Endings”), who can truly be interesting. However not right here, as Jeff jumps up and down like a toddler — not as soon as, however twice. It feels phony, then phonier.
“Cardinal” doesn’t fly.