This “Epiphany” is realization that trendy intellectuals can be boring

By Lucy Komisar

It’s snowy outside probably someplace north of New York City. The big old house has high windows through which you can see white flakes fall. (Scenic designer John Lee Beatty.) I sometimes found myself looking there as a respite from the dreary goings on in the cavernous living room.

Marylouise Burke as Morkan, photo Jeremy Daniel.

The guests, most in their 40s and 50s, are artistic or professional, and the conversation, which is the centerpiece, is the kind that wafts around New York parties when people show off their knowledge or talents or, no talent needed, loneliness and the need for other people. They mostly talk past either other, but it doesn’t matter, because nothing new is said. Maybe this is satire.

To emphasize modernity, the host, quirky Morkan (Marylouise Burke) in her 60s, orders all cell phones put in a box to avoid distractions.  

The expected highlight, the mysterious intellectual Gabriel, will opine about which people get to rule. Loren (Colby Minifie), the vegan, in her 20s, comments, “We’re all gonna have one giant star f..k! However, Gabriel doesn’t show up because, his girlfriend says, he is suffering from depression. Nobody follows that up by wondering if he knows that the wrong people rule and there’s not much to be done about it. Now, that would be a relevant American conversation!

C.J. Wilson as Freddy and Heather Burns as Kelly, photo Jeremy Daniel.

Sam (Omar Metwally) is a psychiatrist who pronounces in a great aperçu, “Well there’s this compulsion, this grass-is-always-greener compulsion, and it makes us look everywhere but where we are.” Charlie (Francois Battiste) is a lawyer and Taylor (David Ryan Smith) works in marketing. With the others, they argue about equality, dystopia and consumerism.

The best part is when pianist Kelly gives us a bit of a promised 22-minutes (thankfully aborted) sample of new music, which sounds like what a three-year old might pound on piano keys, including her use of an elbow. Hmm, satire.

When the arm of guest Ames (Jonathan Handary) is accidentally pierced by a carving knife, which just hangs there– nobody thinks to pull it out — the others discuss which wine to use to disinfect it. Maybe merlot, which nobody is drinking.

The company at dinner, photo Jeremy Daniel.

There is a full bar cart. Alas, before the curtain an usher told us we could not partake. In fact, the best parts are about food and wine served at a long table, a goose and for desert ice cream flambé. Mmmmm.

Director Tyne Rafaeli. is fine at moving the guests around, having them interact like at a real dinner party and eliciting their inner pretentions. OK, maybe this a parody of intellectuals. But it’s not biting enough. In fact, it’s meager fare.

Epiphany” Written by Brian Watkins, directed by Tyne Rafaeli. Newhouse Theatre at Lincoln Center, 165 West 65th Street, NYC. 212-239-6200 or 800-447-7400. Runtime 1:50. Opened June 23, 2022, closes July 24, 2022. See review on NY Theatre Wire.

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