September 24, 2018

Strong Cider at the Taper

Strong Cider at the Taper

By Tom Tugend, Contributing Editor

“The Cider House Rules,” which stretches over two nights and six hours, is a bit like a marathon race, in which the runner gets off to a slow start, picks up speed in the middle distance, and breaks the tape in a dazzling finish.

Adapted from John Irving’s massive novel, the play at the Taper Forum not only covers a lot of distance and seven decades, but, in the shifting scenery along the way, confronts us with themes torn from today’s headlines: abortion, addiction, the price of war, the lot of migrant workers, incest, lesbianism, and the concept of “family” in all its permutations.

In the variety and colorfulness of its characters (there are 22 actors, most in multiple roles), “Cider House Rules” unfolds on a Dickensian scale. If it falls just short in the emotional impact of “Angels in America” or the sheer exuberance of “Nicholas Nickleby” — two other mammoth Center Theatre Group productions — the current play is greatly rewarding to those who will stay the course beyond the slow first act.

“The Cider House Rules,” adapted by Peter Parnell and directed by Tom Hulce and Jane Jones, continues at the Taper Forum through Sept. 27. For tickets, call (213) 628-2772.