Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Commons of Pensacola **

(Please click on the title to see the complete review.)
Few first-time playwrights are lucky enough to have their debut effort presented by a major New York theater company, Manhattan Theater Club, directed by its artistic director, Lynne Meadow, starring two esteemed actresses, Blythe Danner and Sarah Jessica Parker. Amanda Peet, an actress known for "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"  and "The Good Wife," is that lucky person. Her play imagines the post-scandal life of Judith, a Ruth Madoff-like character (Danner), forced to live in straitened circumstances in a Florida condo, and the collateral damage to her family. Daughter Becca (Parker), an unsuccessful 43-year-old actress and her 29-year-old boyfriend Gabe (Michael Stahl-David), a self-styled "guerilla journalist," have arrived for a Thanksgiving visit. They are joined by teenaged granddaughter Lizzy (Zoe Levin), whose mother Ali (Ali Marsh) has broken off contact with Judith for reasons unknown. We also meet Judith's capable part-time homemaker-health aide Lorena (Nilaja Sun). What Judith knew about her husband's criminal activities is at issue. The troubled relationship between Judith and Becca is another focus. The play contains several interesting touches and the dialogue is actor-friendlly, but it doesn't add up to much. Although less than a rousing success, it at least provides the pleasure of seeing Danner and Parker on a New York stage again. I attended an early preview, so chances are it might improve before it opens. Santo Loquasto's set is appropriately nondescript. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes; no intermission.

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