Countdown to Nowhere

What Roger Hedden promised and what he didn't deliver at Florida Stage

Haglett, Kelly, and (top) Marotta: What's wrong with these people?
KEN JACQUES
Haglett, Kelly, and (top) Marotta: What's wrong with these people?

Details

The Count Written by Roger Hedden. Directed by Louis Tyrell. With Dan Leonard, Deborah Hazlett, Richard Henzel, Warren Kelly, Lois Markle, and Michael Marotta. Presented through March 2 at Florida Stage, Plaza del Mar Shopping Center, 262 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan. Call 800-514-3837, or visit www.floridastage.com.

Maybe that much affection is good, and maybe it's not, but I'll tell you what — it's a shame that this gifted, funny, humane playwright and his able cast have extended their talents to a play that glosses over its own best question. What forces could have caused two children of decent parents to waste away their lives as reactionary combatants in a sibling rivalry? Hedden probably thought that question was too obvious. But in his hurry to paint his cleverly layered portrait, Hedden neglected to replace that obvious question with a better one, or any question at all. The result is a play that risks nothing and carries all the emotional weight of an unusually doleful Hallmark card. Hedden could explain the problem as well as I could, because he clearly knows that the count never stops: not for art, not for reflection, not for anything. In such a world, theater should do more with our time than kill it. It should surprise, reinvigorate; it should momentarily convince us that life is more adventure than tedium, more weird questions than pat answers. This is how the Count enthralls a gullible old man in Hedden's play, and it is what The Count fails to do for anybody else.

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