Sticks and Bones / Monique Carboni
Sticks and Bones / Monique Carboni

Like many of the New Group’s star-studded revivals, Sticks and Bones is what you might call a hard sit. It’s an overlong, rather turgid production of a 1971 David Rabe drama that has not aged particularly well. In the second of a Vietnam-focused trilogy that culminated with his 1976 classic Streamers, Rabe offered a stylized satire of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet where the sitcom couple (Bill Pullman and Holly Hunter) must cope with the post-combat return of their eldest son, David (Pride‘s Ben Schechter), who is now blind, embittered, taciturn, and constantly imagining (conjuring) the spectral presence of his wartime Vietnamese lover (Nadia Gan). (Scott Elliott’s uneven revival plays through Dec. 14 at The Pershing Square Signature Center.)

Pullman’s Ozzie is given to lengthy, abstruse speechifying, while Hunter’s Harriett vacillates between fluttery domestic goddess and offhand bigot — a tricky balance that she doesn’t quite succeed in nailing. As the family’s guitar-toting, horndog younger son, Ricky, Raviv Ullmann (Phil of the Future) comes closer to managing Rabe’s challenging tone of edgy parody. But then again, he’s not saddled with the burden of putting forward Rabe’s Big Ideas. For an added bit of Moebius-strip pop culture casting, former Thornbirds star Richard Chamberlain turns up in several scenes to lend his stentorian voice as the family’s parish priest. Grade: C

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