Heights

The paths of five hyperarticulate sophisticates intersect over the course of one long Manhattan day and night in playwright Amy Fox's ensemble drama, expanded from her own one-act play. Opinionated actress Diana (Glenn Close), the toast of New York and Hollywood, who's about to open on Broadway in MacBeth, maintains an open marriage with her husband of many...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

The paths of five hyperarticulate sophisticates intersect over the course of one long Manhattan day and night in playwright Amy Fox's ensemble drama, expanded from her own one-act play. Opinionated actress Diana (Glenn Close), the toast of New York and Hollywood, who's about to open on Broadway in MacBeth, maintains an open marriage with her husband of many years. Shaken to learn that his latest affair is more than a casual fling, she turns her own roving eye to struggling actor Alec (Jesse Bradford), who hopes Diana's next production will be his ticket out of fringe theater and happens to live in the same building as her daughter, struggling photographer Isabel (Elizabeth Banks). Diana impulsively invites Alec to her birthday party that night and is shocked when he demurs — personal rejection aside, she can't conceive that an ambitious young actor would pass up an opportunity to rub shoulders with the movers and shakers of New York's theater scene. Isabel also balks at attending; unlike her extroverted mother, she hates big parties and is preoccupied with preparations for her wedding to square young lawyer Jonathan (James Marsden) and with the nagging fear of losing her autonomy to marriage. Jonathan, in turn, is dodging calls from British reporter Peter (John Light), who's writing a Vanity Fair article about his lover, notorious photographer Benjamin Stone. Stone, whose long series of affairs with his "muses" is the talk of the gossipy art world, has an upcoming gallery show and Vanity Fair's concept — cooked up with the perversely cruel Stone — has Peter interviewing the subjects of Stone's glossy, erotic portraits. The overlapping stories take the main characters up-, down- and all around town, where they cross paths with a substantial supporting cast that includes Eric Bogosian as Diana's director, Isabella Rossellini as Peter's chic editor, George Segal as the rabbi who's counseling Isabel and Jonathan and singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright as one of Stone's exes. Fox reworked her small-scale play at the suggestion of producer Ismail Merchant (who died shortly before it opened); he in turn brought in first-time director Chris Terrio, who was working as an assistant to Merchant's longtime partner, James Ivory. Terrio keeps the multiple stories flowing smoothly, and the setting goes a long way to justify the web of fortuitous interconnections — New York is the ultimate two-degrees-of-separation town.

{