“THE BREAK OF NOON”

0
0
"The Break of Noon"

“The Break of Noon” — the thinly-plotted but ultimately thought-provoking new play by Neil LaBute — is about man’s relationship to God, and the lines of communication between them.

.
David Duchovny (“Californication”, “The X-Files”) stars as an ordinary joe with the perfectly nondescript name of John Smith who — at the start of the play — is sitting alone on stage, hunched over, disheveled, a bit bloodied, having experienced a most traumatic event: just as he was about to leave his office on his lunch break, a gunman strolled in, armed to the teeth, and began mowing down his co-workers — cold-bloodedly, methodically — leaving John as the sole survivor.
.
How did he survive? That’s where God comes in: John says that just as he was sure he was about to die, he heard the Lord tell him — whisper to him, actually — precisely what he should do to get out of there.
.
We don’t know whom John is talking to in his hoarse, exhausted, slightly drone-y voice — the press? the police? — but it doesn’t matter.  The important thing is, he has discovered God; for the first time in his life he has heard the voice of the Almighty, and from that moment on he has been, and forever will be, a convert, a believer — a Born Again.
.
“The Break of Noon” is about the resistance John encounters as he tries to share his newfound spirituality.  The problem: no one really believes him.  His ex-wife doesn’t (she thinks he’s the same old jerk he was when they were married); the T.V. talk show host who interviews him doesn’t (she treats him, as might be expected, with a heavy dose of skepticism); the detective who’s still on the case doesn’t (he continues to examine the original incident because, as a devout Christian, he’s never believed John, either).
.
As the play moves on, more details about the shooting emerge (John reveals most of them in a closing sermon from the pulpit of his church), and we learn that there are, indeed, aspects of the incident that John had been keeping to himself.
.
Duchovny is excellent: low-key, subtle, fiery on the inside but not on the outside — eschewing the fire-and-brimstone, televangelist, Jimmy Swaggart/Jerry Falwell type of performance that would have catapulted him over the top — he is never anything less than believable.  A trio of actors — Tracee Chimo, John Earl Jelks, and Amanda Peet — play all the other roles, and they do fine work, too.
.
Director Jo Bonney keeps things moving over the play’s intermission-less ninety minutes swiftly and surely.
.
Now if only LaBute had given his well-intentioned but unfortunately lightweight drama a little more substance — had put a bit more meat on the bones — he might have cooked up something very satisfying here… instead of something that will only leave audiences hungry for more.
.
THEATRE REVIEW by Stuart R. Brynien