Saturday, September 10, 2011
Sweet and Sad **
Last November, the Public Theater presented Richard Nelson's play "The Hopey Changey Thing," which was set on and opened on Election Day 2010. Now we have Nelson's "Sweet and Sad" (the title comes from a line in Whitman's "The Wound Dresser") which takes place on and opens on 9/11/11. In both plays, we visit the three adult Apple daughters (Barbara, Marian and Jane) their brother Richard, their uncle Benjamin, and Jane's partner Tim at Barbara's home in Rhinebeck. This time out, they are gathered to attend a 9/11 commemoration put on by Barbara's students, at which Benjamin, a retired actor with amnesia, will give a recitation. As the Apples eat supper, the conversation ebbs and flows, alternating between the personal and the public spheres, with the topic of 9/11 often rising to the surface. As in last year's play, nothing much happens. Although seeing the earlier play is not essential, it did help to flesh out the characters. The excellent cast from last year (see my November 2010 review for their names) inhabits their roles even more fully. While I admire Nelson for undertaking this series of plays reflecting current events through the prism of the Apple family, I didn't find this instalment as satisfying as the first. Nelson also directed. Running time: 110 minutes; no intermission.