Revival of 'How I Learned to Drive' idles too much

February 14, 2012 • Entertainment

In this theater image released by The Hartman group, Elizabeth Reaser, left, and Norbert Leo Butz are shown during a performance in “How I Learned to Drive.” (AP Photo/The Hartman Group, Joan Marcus)

NEW YORK (AP) — Norbert Leo Butz, you might say, has switched gears completely, going from a goofy, glitzy musical in which he plays an FBI agent to a harrowing play where he’s definitely on the other side of the law.

Butz, who won a Tony Award last season for “Catch Me If You Can,” can lately be found playing a middle-aged man lusting after his much-younger niece in a revival of Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, “How I Learned to Drive.”

Butz, who stars opposite a working-hard-but-struggling Elizabeth Reaser of “Twilight” fame, is clearly the best thing in this otherwise limp production, which opened Monday off-Broadway at Second Stage Theatre.

The production, to use its central metaphor, never really gets out of neutral. It centers on the troubling relationship between a teenager called Li’l Bit and her 40-something uncle nicknamed Uncle Peck, who both teaches her to drive and molests her over a series of scenes that skip forward and back in time, highlighting the unreliable nature of memory and affection.

The car is the central motif, and Login to read more

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