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The Velocity of Autumn
The Velocity of Autumn

The Velocity of Autumn
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater
Thru - Oct 20, 2013

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Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

DCTheatreScene- Recommended

You are here: Home / All Reviews / Our Reviews / The Velocity of Autumn The Velocity of Autumn September 20, 2013 By Susan Galbraith 1 Comment (Edit) You could fairly hear the crackle of anticipation on opening night at Arena Stage when the lights went up on Estelle Parsons. She sat asleep in a chair and there she slept – until the audience tittered with delight at such an audacious beginning. Behind her a middle-aged man struggled up a tree and climbed in through a window.
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Susan Galbraith



Baltimore Sun- Highly Recommended

"...As portrayed by venerable actress Estelle Parsons in Eric Coble's funny-bittersweet new play "The Velocity of Autumn" at Arena Stage, Alexandra is a startling force -- wry, wise, wistful, obsessive, compulsive, angry, a little spiteful."
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Tim Smith



MetroWeekly- Recommended

"...Still, you'll have plenty to think and talk about from Arena Stage's production, from set designer Eugene Lee's finely detailed set, as cluttered and lived-in as you'd expect, to the personality-fitting clothes Linda Cho designed for the characters: fiery but fashionable for Alexandra, muted and tentative for Chris. The key selling point, however, is the sharp, superb acting on display, and the way director Molly Smith has helped the actors bring the characters and their relationship to life. Working together, the award-winning veteran stage and screen actors Parsons and Spinella have natural chemistry and a perfect sense of timing. It's easy to forget that they're not really mother and son, or that they're not really speaking off-the-cuff. They relive memories together and respond to each other as naturally and fearlessly as if they were the real deal."
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Doug Rule



Talkin Broadway- Recommended

"...Parsons, an elegant figure in a bright dress, and Spinella, ponytailed and drawn-faced, are a well matched pair, especially as directed fluidly and naturally by Molly Smith. Over the course of 90 minutes with no intermission, they play cat and mouse, consider each other's point of view, and reach a possibly surprising conclusion."
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Susan Berlin



City Paper- Somewhat Recommended

"...And man, do they talk. Loudly, tenderly, fondly, abusively, and at length, they talk. Coble’s play is such a writer’s exercise that even several days after the show’s press night, the estimable Estelle Parsons—an Oscar winner for Bonnie and Clyde and beloved by my generation as the title character’s insufferable mother in Roseanne—still seemed to be flailing a bit to keep her lines in order. “But she’s 85,” one might demur. “Cut her some slack.” Done, but the show’s other star, two-time Tony winner Stephen Spinella, also seemed a little bit at sea. And quite frankly, even if that was just acting—one of the characters is showing signs of early dementia, after all—Velocity is still wordy enough that it’s able to cram all the character and situation development I’ve laid out above, plus more, into 95 minutes and still find time to be earnestly, wearingly repetitive."
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Trey Graham



Washingtonian- Recommended

"...Adding to the melancholy beauty of the second half of the show is Rui Rita’s lighting, which eases so gently from bright daylight to warm twilight on the tree outside Alexandra’s window that it only becomes noticeable late in the play. Costume designer Linda Cho dresses Chris like a late-stage Marlboro man, emphasizing his alien qualities in the New York air, and Alexandra in vivid purple with a matching headscarf, which brings to mind this Jenny Joseph poem: “When I’m an old woman I shall wear purple . . . I shall go out in my slippers in the rain/And pick flowers in other people’s gardens/And learn to spit.” Funny, abrasive, and fierce, Alexandra turns out to a gem of a character, and Parsons an actor who’s equally steely and rewarding to encounter."
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Sophie Gilbert



DC Metro Theater Arts- Highly Recommended

"...With the stage in total darkness the house is consumed with loud noises of a storm and sirens evoking a very chaotic state. It last for about a minute, just enough to make your heart begin to race, then it all goes silent and the lights come up on the house. There she is, Alexandra (Estelle Parsons) reclining in her chair taking a little nap while holding a lighter and a bottle of flammable photography fluid."

Nicole Cusick



Afro- Recommended

You could fairly hear the crackle of anticipation on opening night at Arena Stage when the lights went up on Estelle Parsons. She sat asleep in a chair and there she slept – until the audience tittered with delight at such an audacious beginning. Behind her a middle-aged man struggled up a tree and climbed in through a window. Thus began The Velocity of Autumn, a two-character play starring the Academy Award winner and esteemed New York actress and Stephen Spinella, a two-time Tony Award winner.
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Susan Galbraith



Curtain Up- Somewhat Recommended

"...As Chris, Stephen Spinella gives a very laconic performance, so understated in parts that I had a hard time hearing him over the sounds of digestive juices at work in the man sitting behind me. As the play progresses Chris shows tenderness as does his mother. Their rapprochement is touching. Molly Smith's direction, which avoids maudlin and melodramatic effects, brings out the sensitivities the script calls for. "
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Susan Davidson



MD Theatre Guide- Highly Recommended

"...The result is an hilariously touching comedy about—not coming to grips with dying (seen that and who needs it)—but about the human connection that can transform an “autumn” of continuous pain into a time of birds singing, slow memory-filled walks in the light, and (oh yes) that continuous pain."
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Robert Michael Oliver