Sunday, February 12, 2017



A third play by award-winning British playwright Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike, The Ruins of Civilization) has reached New York in a Manhattan Theatre Club production helmed by MTC artistic director Lynne Meadow. Linda Wilde (Olivier winner Janie Dee), a 50-something executive at a cosmetic company, seems to have it all — a great job, a loyal husband, two daughters, a lovely home. (We are told that her elder daughter Alice (Jennifer Ikeda, recently seen at MTC in “Vietgone”) has a different father and that Linda had to raise her alone, but we don’t learn the circumstances.) Linda won an important advertising prize 10 years before with a campaign emphasizing women’s inner beauty. When she proposes targeting the company’s new anti-aging cream to women over 50, her boss Dave (John C. Vennema) vetoes the idea. He thinks it’s better to trade on the insecurities of younger women and market to them and has brought in Amy (Molly Griggs), a 25-year old hotshot, to head the campaign. Linda learns that her husband Neil (Donald Sage Mackay) is canoodling with Stevie (Meghann Fahy), the attractive young singer in his band. Daughter Alice is a mess; she has been vegetating at home and won’t take off her skunk costume onesie. Apparently, she was permanently traumatized by a shaming incident at school 10 years ago. Younger daughter Bridget (Molly Janson) is about to audition for a drama academy, but wants to do a man’s speech since she thinks there are few good speeches for women. Luke (Maurice Jones) is a flirty temp at Linda’s office who is leaving soon for Bali. It turns out that Amy was in school with Alice and was complicit in her shaming. In another unlikely twist, mother imitates daughter with similarly disastrous consequences. Even the elements conspire; we get a Lear-worthy storm, for no discernible reason. The underlying problem of being an aging woman in contemporary society gets lost in the melodrama. On the plus side, we get a strong performance from Janie Dee and a sleek revolving set by Walt Spangler that is even color-coordinated with Jennifer von Mayrhauser’s attractive costumes. Too bad that the work came across, to me at least, as a heavy-handed polemic that did not do justice to its topic. Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes including intermission.

No comments: