How can it be that this new play – MOTHER – having its world premiere at The Wild Project (195 East Street – between Avenues A & B) starring Buck Henry who is a well known actor and writer (The Graduate) and Holland Taylor who is well known for her wonderful, caustic portrayal of Charlie Sheen’s mother on Two & a Half Men can be so disappointingly odd?
Written by Lisa Ebersole who also portrays Kate Leroy, daughter of Joesph (Buck Henry) and Kitty (Holland Taylor) and sister to Jackie LeRoy (Haskell King) MOTHER is a small, intimate, eavesdropping affair of the Leroy’s yearly traditional celebration of the Christmas holiday at a high end West Virginia Resort. They are there for the weekend. Having dinner at eight. It is Dec 29, 2009. According to the extremely clever program designed as a menu. That’s about the cleverest thing you’ll get all evening in this 75 minute sans intermission dining experience directed by Andrew Grosso.
The theatre itself is a nice size and it has been festooned with garlands and Christmas trees to add to the spirit of the holiday. Welcoming and charming. Spirits are also available with Premium On-Stage Seating ($30.00) at the six small café tables as part of the hotel décor and include a complimentary glass of Prosecco, an Italian Champagne – which gets very good product placement within the play itself. You may need a refill to get through this short evening, however.
So it was with great and high expectations that I awaited the start of Mother. The decorations and the cast and the background musak, aka “elevator music” put me in a very nice mood. And then it started. And then I thought “What is this?” And then I thought of those lucky people drinking their Prosecco, served by the attractive waiter (David Rosenblatt). And then I thought “what time is it?” Then the entrée was served. And then it was over.
In between the four family members spend most of the time leaving the dining area to look for one another. Mother has forgotten her shoes and dad wants to drink and son wants to talk about “the birds and the bees” and daughter wants to go to Uruguay (that’s after she returns after they think she’s been kidnapped) and these are kids in their 30’s mind you. Their dinner orders are taken by Chester (Keith Randolph Smith) who has been on staff forever and knows the family for years.
The underlying tension and lack of communication is self evident and nothing really new is brought up that we all haven’t seen and heard before. We’ve all had holiday dinners with relatives that we would rather have just sent a card to.
Without the very excellent acting of all involved this play would be immediately dismissed. As it is, it is barely digestible. Even with all that Prosecco just within reach. Through August 1st. Tickets $25.00 www.mothertheplay.com