‘Sticks and Bones’ has lost its shock value

Does anyone still remember “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” the long-running television sitcom starring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson about a clean-cut, pitch-perfect American family, which ran from 1952 to 1966?

The series became the target of parody in David Rabe’s 1971 war torn drama “Sticks and Bones,” in which Ozzie and Harriet’s son, David, comes home from Vietnam both blind and psychologically tormented.

As Ozzie comes to terms with what’s happened as Harriet tries to stay blissfully ignorant, David’s brother Rick cheerfully plays the guitar without any apparent stress or strain. Rick even brags about his various sexual conquests.

Produced by Joe Papp during the early years of the Public Theater, who then brought the play to Broadway, the talk-heavy, plot-lacking, three-hour drama has not aged well at all.

Scott Elliott, the ambitious but often foolhardy artistic director of Off-Broadway’s The New Group, has revived it with a starry cast including Bill Pullman and Holly Hunter as the parents and Richard Chamberlain as a minister who unsuccessfully attempts to break the spell over David.

Despite an especially revealing performance from Pullman, “Sticks and Bones” has lost its shock value and comes off here as a never-ending, self-indulgent, excessively creepy bore.


If you go: ‘Sticks and Bones’ is at the Signature Center through Dec. 14, 480 W. 42nd St., thenewgroup.org