The hottest ticket on Broadway right now is a play written by and starring Larry David, Fish In The Dark. My son and I are huge Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm fans, and we couldn't wait to see this show.
We attended the first Sunday matinee preview performance. We were told several times via email and at the theater that no one would be seated once the show started, and if we left our seats for any reason, we could not return until intermission.
I've been to many shows, and never has one been this strict. When the show began, there were at least a dozen empty seats in the few rows near us, which surprised me since the show's run is completely sold out. But at intermission, every seat was filled, so I guess they weren't kidding about their policy.
The show is about a family whose patriarch dies. The first scene is set in the hospital waiting room, where we meet the various family members. When Larry David makes his entrance, the audience enthusiastically applauds.
I had a hard time hearing David at first (the actors are not miked), but that was remedied quickly. David plays Norman, the older, less successful son. (He sells urinals.) He is married to Brenda (played by Rita Wilson), a woman who has the uncanny ability to remember the details of every single day of her life.
Ben Shenkman plays younger brother Arthur, a wealthy lawyer, who brings a well-endowed young woman as his date to see his dying father. Their overbearing mother Gloria is played to the hilt by Broadway vet Jayne Houdyshell, who is fantastic here. She hates her daughter-in-law, holding a grudge because Brenda won't wear a scarf she bought for her.
The show has many Seinfeld-ian and Curb-like storylines. Norman is really just another variation on David's personality, so he is very comfortable and hilarious in the role. The other characters may remind you of your favorite Seinfeld and Curb friends (George Costanza, Kramer, Mrs. Costanza, Marty Funkhouser, etc.)
The story is very funny, with a few crazy plot developments that will you remind of the best of David's writing. Small things are blown out of proportion, people are too honest, secrets are revealed.
Young Jake Cannavale has wonderful chemistry in his scenes with David, and he shows amazing restraint not losing it when Larry David goes on a full-blown physical comedic rant in his face. Cannavale has a big career ahead of him.
Norman's father's dying wish is that his wife go to live to with one of his son's, but who he was talking to is up for debate and the men fight to see who has to take overbearing mom. The solution is comedy gold.
Two of the funniest bits take place off-stage as phone calls with Norman- first when he gets the call about his father's illness, and then when he calls to cancel a food delivery.
Fish In The Dark is the second-funniest show I have seen on Broadway (One Man, Two Guvnors is the funniest), and we laughed non-stop. The audience roared with laughter, and my sides hurt after two hours. And Larry David received a vigorous and well-deserved standing ovation at the end.
This is a must-see show, unfortunately it is a limited run and tickets are extremely hard to come by now. (They already broke box office records at the Cort Theater, and it doesn't officially open until March 5th). I hope the Tony voters remember this one when the time comes.
The website for Fish in the Dark is here.
A New York Times interview with Larry David is here.
A New York magazine story on Larry David is here.