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Off-Broadway Review: “One November Yankee” at 59E59 Theaters (Through Sunday December 29, 2019)

Off-Broadway Review: “One November Yankee” at 59E59 Theaters (Through Sunday December 29, 2019)
Written and Directed by Joshua Ravitch
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

Veteran actors of screen, stage, and television Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers do their best to bring Joshua Ravetch’s “One November Yankee” to the stage at 59E59 Theaters on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Despite their heroic efforts, Ravitch’s script lacks the sophistication and strength to match the formidable skills of the cast. The three stories that make up “One November Yankee” do little to fulfill the promise of “exploring human connection brought on by tragedy in the aftermath of a plane crash that ripples across the lives of our characters.” Nor are these stories “intricately interwoven.”

In all three stories, Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers portray pairs of brothers and sisters with similar matrices of characteristics. The stories are told over four scenes. In the first scene, artist Ralph is putting finishing touches on his installation “Crumpled Plane” at New York City’s MoMA. His sister Maggie is curator at the museum and – having seen her brother’s work – becomes worried about her own reputation as well as Ralph’s reception by New York critics. The installation, a real banana yellow Piper Cub with the registration number 241-November-Yankee, is based on the story of the actual plane crash of brother and sister Margo and Harry Preston who were “lost in the mountains of New Hampshire five years ago and never found.”

In the second scene, time travels back those five years to that plane crash in the mountains of New Hampshire. Margo was piloting the two-seater Piper Cub when it crashed. She and Harry were on their way to Harry’s father’s second wedding in Florida. The plane crashed because Margo failed to check the fuel level before they left. No one can locate them because Margo removed the locator beacon and “failed to file a flight plan.” Without any hope of being found and unable to look for help because of Harry’s injured leg, brother and sister hunker down hoping to survive the cold New England evening.

In the third scene, another sister and brother team find the wreckage while hiking in the area the same year as the art opening referenced in the first scene. Yes, the connections are there; however, they are more obvious than intricate. As expected, Mia and Ronnie find Harry’s remains, and no sign of Margo’s remains. It isn’t difficult to determine what happened to Mia. The final scene is a return to the present at the art installation and the arrival of the New York Times review of “Crumpled Plane” and the news item about the discovery of the actual downed plane.

Dana Moran Williams’s set design is cramped but functional. Lucas Campbell’s and Jackson Williams’s sound might have been well designed but sputtered and failed near the play’s end prompting a post-curtain apology by Ms. Powers. The failure of the sound and the persistent cellphone ringing in the front row made this performance of “One November Yankee” an unfortunate challenge for an accomplished cast.

Despite the reference to leaves, paint, blood, red, ruined shirts, lost jewelry and watches, family similarities, sibling rivalries (replete with much shouting and blaming, and shaming), the three stories fail to make a convincing argument for their telling. There is no substance to them and no redemptive resolution or catharsis. Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers deserve better than this as do the patrons of 59E59 Theaters.


“One November Yankee” stars Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers.

“One November Yankee” runs at 59E59 Theaters through Sunday, December 29, 2019 on the following performance schedule: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:15 p.m.; Thursday and Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m.; Sunday at 2:15 p.m. Single tickets are $25 - $70 ($49 for 59E59 Members). Tickets are available by calling the 59E59 Box Office at 646-892-7999 or by visiting Running time is 80 minutes without intermission.

Photo: Harry Hamlin and Stefanie Powers in “One November Yankee” at 59E59 Theaters. Credit: Matt Urban at NüPOINT Marketing.
Permalink | Posted by David Roberts on Tuesday, December 10, 2019