(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Alas, the curse that the theater gods apparently placed on Manhattan Theatre Club's Stage I at City Center has not yet lifted. On paper "The Madrid" looked like a sure thing. With a cast led by Edie Falco and including Frances Sternhagen and Christopher Evan Welch; a playwright, Liz Flahive, with a previous MTC success and a strong track record writing for Falco on "Nurse Jackie;" and a first-rate director, Leigh Silverman, who helmed Flahive's previous MTC play, what could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turns out. Falco plays Martha, a teacher in a Chicago suburb who suddenly walks out on her family and job and starts a new life in a seedy downtown apartment named The Madrid. Her 20-year old daughter Sarah (Phoebe Strole) tries to find a connection with her. Her long-suffering husband John (John Ellison Conlee) copes by selling everything that reminds him of her. Their meddlesome, needy neighbor Becca (Heidi Schreck) and her slightly creepy husband Danny (Welch) try to help in counterproductive ways. Martha's mother Rose (the always fine Sternhagen) tries desperate measures to bring her daughter home. Becca and Danny's gangly 16-year-old son Dylan (Seth Clayton) provides a brief moment of comic relief. The trouble is that the proceedings offer so little to involve the viewer that, by the end of two long listless acts, I no longer cared why Martha left or whether she would return. David Zinn's multipurpose set is efficiently versatile and Emily Rebholz's costumes are fine. Silverman does her best with the hand she has been dealt. Running time: 2 hours, 20 minutes including intermission.