You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Knives and Other Sharp Objects

There's enough material for a full-length play in any one of the four warring plotlines that make up "Knives and Other Sharp Objects."

Beatrice - Noemi Del Rio Alex - Joselin Reyes Manuel - Michael Ray Escamilla Loren - Amanda Perez Lucy - Ana Nogueira Lydia - Candy Buckley Jaime - Jaime Tirelli Harvey - Ed Vassallo Perry - Angelo Rosso Eddie - David Anzuelo

There’s enough material for a full-length play in any one of the four warring plotlines that make up “Knives and Other Sharp Objects.” As it is, Raul Castillo’s heartfelt Texas drama is considerably less than the sum of its parts, with too many characters and more locations than a James Bond movie. Still, it’s hard to begrudge the play its vast scope when its subject matter — old-money families in south Texas, life in a border town — mines such a rich, seldom-explored seam of experience, however briefly.

Castillo opens on Beatrice (Noemi Del Rio) and Alex (Joselin Reyes) — sisters heading away from their tiny hometown of Mission, about five miles north of the Texas/Mexico border. Not a bad kid overall, Beatrice has reached the bratty stage of adolescence, and big sister Alex plays surrogate mother during their trip north. It’s a journey of indefinite length — the girls’ father is dying, and the two siblings are to be looked after by their uncle, Jaime (Jaime Tirelli).

The action moves from bus to bus station to car to house with an alacrity that does some significant structural damage to the narrative. Castillo has clearly learned his storytelling craft from the movies, and his settings, many of which confine the dialogue to chairs and car seats, suck a lot of energy out of the performances.

Happily, most of the performers have energy to spare. Reyes and Del Rio, in particular, play their roles with utter conviction and keep at bay much of the incredulity that Castillo’s gangster subplot might otherwise inspire.

When the girls finally make it to Jaime’s house, Castillo gives us the most interesting dynamic in the play: the old money Hispanic/WASP family. This, by the way, is not some offbeat construction — living right next to the “Remember the Alamo” set in Texas is a multigenerational Hispanic aristocracy that continues to flourish. In this particular family, Castillo has paired Tio Jaime with Tia Lydia (Candy Buckley, good in a thankless role), an insufferable social climber who has latched onto her moneyed husband and produced two similarly self-centered kids, Loren (Amanda Perez) and Lucy (Ana Nogueira).

It would be a stretch to say Castillo should have made his play entirely about these people. The writer demonstrates such contempt for Lydia and Jaime’s trashy daughters — Loren especially — that it’s hard to imagine any further indignities he could have visited on them, much less a burst of sympathy for these barely parented young women. Still, there’s something about the white/Hispanic dynamic that keeps Castillo coming back to this uniquely dysfunctional family.

That attraction may be Jaime, whose greed and ego drive away both his new family and his old one. Tirelli’s performance is good, but it’s the playwright who makes the part interesting with his unerring sense of this bitter old man surrounded by people he’s chosen to be with and doesn’t particularly like anymore.

At one point a couple of soldiers (Ed Vassallo and Angelo Rosso) spout conservative platitudes; at another, a hard-luck case caught up in narcotrafficante troubles (Michael Ray Escamilla) tries to woo Alex. Neither of these stories really seems to matter.

In staging the piece, the Public has located a topic worth devoting further time and attention to. And for about 30 of this play’s 140 minutes, Castillo nails it dead-on.

Knives and Other Sharp Objects

Public Theater/Shiva; 99 seats; $10 top

Production: A Public Lab presentation of a play in two acts by Raul Castillo. Directed by Felix Solis.

Creative: Set, Peter Ksander; costumes, Ilona Somogyi; lighting, Sarah Sidman; sound, Bray Poor; production stage manager, Michael D. Domue. Opened April 12, 2009. Reviewed April 11. Running time: 2 HOURS, 20 MIN.

Cast: Beatrice - Noemi Del Rio Alex - Joselin Reyes Manuel - Michael Ray Escamilla Loren - Amanda Perez Lucy - Ana Nogueira Lydia - Candy Buckley Jaime - Jaime Tirelli Harvey - Ed Vassallo Perry - Angelo Rosso Eddie - David Anzuelo

More Legit

  • Dear Evan Hansen

    Broadway Cast Albums Find Fresh Footing With Hip New Sounds, Viral Outreach

    Mixtapes. YouTube videos. Dedicated playlists. Ancillary products. Viral marketing. Epic chart stays. These are things you expect to hear from a record label discussing Cardi B or Beyoncé. Instead, this is the new world of a very old staple, the Broadway original cast recording. Robust stats tell the tale: Atlantic’s “Hamilton” album beat the record [...]

  • Ali Stroker Oklahoma

    Ali Stroker on 'Oklahoma!': 'This Show Doesn’t Follow the Rules and That Is So Who I Am'

    Ali Stroker is no stranger to rewriting history. With her 2015 Broadway debut in “Spring Awakening,” she became the first actor in a wheelchair to perform on the Great White Way. Three years later, she’s back onstage in Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” as Ado Annie, the flirtatious local who splits her affections between a resident [...]

  • Hadestown Broadway

    'Hadestown': Inside the Musical's 12-Year Odyssey to Broadway

    “Hadestown’s” 12-year journey to Broadway was an odyssey in its own right.  Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell’s buzzy musical, a folk-operatic retelling of the Greek myth of Orpheus, a musician who ventures to the underworld to rescue his fiancée, Eurydice, was in development for more than a decade before arriving on the New York stage. The show [...]

  • Elaine May in The Waverly Gallery

    Playwright Kenneth Lonergan on the Genius of His 'Waverly Gallery' Star Elaine May

    When Elaine May agreed to be in my play, “The Waverly Gallery,” naturally I was ecstatic. I had admired her as a director, writer, actor and sketch comedian since high school, when my friend Patsy Broderick made me listen to the album “Nichols and May Examine Doctors.” I didn’t know then that I had already seen Elaine’s [...]

  • Lisbeth R Barron Investment Banker

    Investment Banker Lisbeth R. Barron on How She Became a Broadway Deal Specialist

    If you want to get a deal done on Broadway, call Lisbeth R. Barron. Barron is a veteran investment banker who launched her own shingle, Barron Intl. Group, in 2015. She has brokered a slew of deals throughout her career — which has included stops at S.G. Warburg and Bear Stearns — involving companies and [...]

  • The Lion King Frozen Disney on

    Disney Theatrical Celebrates 25 Years on Broadway

    The Disney brand is known worldwide for its family-friendly entertainment with a flair for magic, music and spectacle, but when its adaptation of “Beauty and the Beast” hit Broadway in 1994, success wasn’t guaranteed. Variety’s positive review by Jeremy Gerard noted, “It will almost certainly be met with varying levels of derision by Broadway traditionalists.” [...]

  • The Prom Broadway

    'The Prom': How the Little Show That Could Found Its Way to the Tonys Dance

    Does a Broadway musical still count as an underdog if it’s got über-producer Ryan Murphy in its corner? It does if it’s “The Prom,” the labor of love from a team of Broadway veterans that’s carving out a place for itself as an original story on a street full of familiar titles and well-known brands. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content