Rob Nash: He'll Take Manhattan
New York critics have weighed in on the off-Broadway debut of Rob Nash's Holy Cross Sucks! and given the Austin theatre artist a bushel of Big Apple praise
Judging by the speed with which New York critics reviewed the off-Broadway debut of Rob Nash's Holy Cross Sucks!, you'd think they spent the last few years awaiting the show's on-again, off-again Big Apple premiere as anxiously as its creator. Within days of the show's Sept. 9 opening, a half-dozen critics had weighed in, including The New York Times (which, amusingly, found the titular verb too vulgar for publication, leaving a demure ellipsis in its place). Critical opinion was pretty consistent: Nash successfully evokes both the traumas of high school and American life during Reagan's first term (with more than one reviewer raving about the early Eighties soundtrack). And though he took raps for the show's abundance of dramatic crises an occupational hazard when you condense four separate plays into a single two-hour show Nash reaped praise for his comedy and skills at playing multiple characters. As Richard Hinojosa says at NYTheatre.com: "He switches back and forth from one character's voice and posture to another with the ease and skill of a carnival juggler. It is an absolutely stunning feat of focus and precision to behold." TheaterMania.com's Dan Bacalzo notes: "Nash has a buoyant energy that's infectious and a delightfully comic delivery." Andy Probst at Backstage.com feels that some of the storytelling is "overly contrived," but "Nash compensates for any content-related issues with his utterly charming and well-executed characterizations." TalkinBroadway.com's Matthew Murray finds the play's characters closer to caricatures, but notes that "at least the laughs are first rate. Nash's deconstructions of everything from school plays to first sexual experiences are often downright hilarious." And the Times' Rob Kendt writes: "Under Jeff Calhoun's sure-handed direction, Mr. Nash comes off as uncannily mellow and unflappable. By mostly playing it cool, Mr. Nash builds a warm glow of bemused hindsight around his essentially sweet-natured reminiscence."
Holy Cross Sucks! runs through Oct. 1 at Ars Nova, 511 W. 54th, New York City. For more information, visit www.robnash.com.