The Big Picture
nytheatre.com review by Becky London
August 16, 2006
The Big Picture bills itself as a comedy about depression; it is in turn wacky, outrageous, unbelievable, and familiar. Mr. and Mrs. Muffin (Luke Younger and Sarah Randall Hunt) are robbed, and the ensuing dissolution of their status quo sends Junior Muffin (played by playwright Andrew Greer) off the deep end. The resulting attempts to deal with, get rid of, or otherwise treat his depression form the body of the play.
The world of The Big Picture is an absurd one: Junior's parents are aggressively neglectful; the police officer who comes to deal with the robbery interrogates his own sock puppet (an awesome performance by Ryan Garbabyo); his psychiatrist (Kelly Rauch) might as well be dealing with a lab rat; and his Grandma (Rachel James), although now ashes in an urn, continues to talk to him, although even this voice from beyond the grave opts out of providing any help.
The Big Picture is a bit raw with a young energy, but it is a fun evening with some performances truly worth watching. The production is earnest and energetic. The company is extremely youthful, fresh out of college or close to it. Some of the physical business is a bit over the top, even for this absurdist comedy. But Garbabyo and Rauch in particular deliver accomplished, confident, and extremely funny performances, each of them in multiple roles. Notably, Garbabyo's prologue as a tramp, entering through the house and speaking directly to the audience, is sure and engaging. Kudos also to Greer as Junior; straight man and protagonist for the most part. As Greer plays Junior, he is truly the center of the play. The performance glows with dimension and intensity, without which the play would collapse into a pastiche of nightmarish weirdoes. Junior's humanity earns Greer, as both actor and playwright, a surprisingly moving final moment.
The Big Picture is funny, bizarre, and a bit rough around the edges, but still a very funny evening in the theatre.