Theater Review: 'Water by the Spoonful' -- 2.5 stars

The 2012 Pulitzer-winning play "Water by the Spoonful."

The 2012 Pulitzer-winning play "Water by the Spoonful." (Credit: The 2012 Pulitzer-winning play "Water by the Spoonful.")

Water by the Spoonful
2.5 stars

Quiara Alegría Hude, who is probably best known for writing the book of the Tony-winning musical "In the Heights," surprised one and all last spring when her play "Water by the Spoonful," which had yet to be produced in New York, won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Were it not for the Pulitzer win, "Water by the Spoonful," the second part of a trilogy involving a Marine returning from Iraq, might not have even been produced Off-Broadway, or at least not by a renowned company like Second Stage.
Arriving in town with the award in tow, it faces the heavy burden of living up to high expectations.

Truth be told, this strange and nonlinear play should not have won the award, especially over Jon Robin Baitz's "Other Desert Cities" or Stephen Karam's "Sons of the Prophet," two masterful family dramas.

Set around Philadelphia and modeled loosely on the loose style of jazz, it freely switches off between depicting the attempt of ex-marine Elliot (Armando Riesco) to adjust back to civilian life and a virtual community of recovering narcotic users, who are known mainly by their online avatars.

The connection is that Elliot's mother, who did not actually raise him, is also the website administrator.

Depicting the online chat room is the play's most problematic aspect. With their avatars projected onto a wall of tiles, the actors portray their chat room communications by sitting or standing still and speaking blankly to the audience.

Their dialogue, which can be verbose and generic, resembles the transcript of a self-help group.

But in Hude's defense, she has created some very detailed and emotionally raw character portraits.


If you go: "Water by the Spoonful" plays at Second Stage through Jan. 27. 305 W. 43rd St., 212-246-4422, 2st.com.

Tags: ENTERTAINMENT , MATT WINDMAN

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