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Put it in deep freeze



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COLDER THAN HERE MCC Theater, 121 Christopher St.; (212) 279-4200. Through Oct. 15.

YOU'D think a play about a high-spirited wife and mother wasting away from bone cancer might have, say, a searing moment or two. But in "Colder Than Here," the new British drama by Laura Wade, the principal drama revolves around . . . when a defective boiler is going to be fixed.

Such restraint may be typical of the Brits and could prove rewarding, too. Still, there's no getting around the fact that this play, which largely concerns itself with the funeral arrangements being made in advance by the terminally ill and rather anal Myra (Judith Light), makes dying seem like an event best planned by Martha Stewart.

In the PowerPoint demonstration she thoughtfully delivers to her family, which includes husband Alec (Brian Murray) and daughters Jenna (Lily Rabe) and Harriet (Sarah Paulson), Myra asks that no AstroTurf be used by the gravesite. Alex, the sort of repressed prig who can barely bring himself to physically comfort his dying wife, is horrified by the irreverence.

By play's end, Alec has begun to open up, but it's a long 90 minutes to get there. While there are some moving moments in this portrait of a family facing the worst life has to offer, "Colder Than Here" is too frigid by far.

Copyright 2004 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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