You are only as good as your latest work….that old adage holds true with Jack Thorne’s newest work Sunday, now playing at the Atlantic. A Tony winner for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two, Thorne also wrote the misfired book to King Kong. His newest work Sunday, is all over the map. Part of the reason, is the direction/ choreography by Lee Sunday Evans. For absolutely no reason, the 20 something cast breaks into a disjointed form of dancing, about 5 times during the course of this 100 minute memory play. As they do, you are left scratching your head, with mouth dropped open in utter confusion. It’s actually rather amusing to watch an entire audience do this.
The premise of the play, is a group of twenty-somethings, meet once a week for a book club. They alternate apartments and this week it’s at Marie (Sadie Scott) and Jill’s (Juliana Canfield). One of the members Alice (Ruby Frankel), a lesbian narrates, letting us in on who each character is and what they are really thinking. They have gathered to discuss Anne Tyler’s 1982 novel “Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant”.
We learn how flawed all of these characters are, as they consume vodka and rant. Each person is categorized by their defining moment. Running the group is Milo (Zane Pais), handsome, white, privileged, toxic and rich, he is the person in society, we are now suppose to hate. His best friends are Alice and Keith (Christian Strange), the under privileged, middle class black scholarship student and his girlfriend, Jill, also black is how Milo, makes himself feel giving. Milo will never marry Jill. He will berate both of these characters, abuse them and use them. Though Jill and Keith know their relationships are destructive, they stay.
Marie, is the outsider in the group and of life. Having spent most of her childhood confined to a bed due to allergies, she is socially out of touch. Having just been fired, her state of mind is fragile. Before the group arrives the downstairs neighbor Bill (Maurice Jones) knocks on the door and asks them not to play loud music, because it’s Sunday night and he needs his sleep. After the group leaves, upon hearing Maria cry, Bill appears at her door again. He is just as needy as Marie, but it turns out Marie is more toxic, than Milo.
The cast plays each of these roles with an intensity that makes you know at least one of these people will kill themselves, however it is not who you think and it is not until later when you are told their future.
This work is confusing and frustrating, with its look at younger society. By the end you are sorry you met these characters, sorry you wasted your time watching this and grateful for the night air that can clear this all away.
Sunday: Atlantic Theatre Company, 330 West 16th St. until Oct. 13th.