New York City Theater- Fall 2018

Fall 2018 was a good time to make our semi-annual visit to New York city to check out the newest in theater. Every single play we saw was a winner.

Waverly Galley

Waverly Gallery is simultaneously funny and profoundly touching. The stellar cast that included comedy legend Elaine May, Joan Allen, Lucas Hedges and Michael Cera. The play centers on the progression of dementia of Gladys (Elaine May), a former globe-trotting lawyer, who retired to own and art gallery—and the burden that the dementia imposes on her family. The comedy of Ms. May’s timing was priceless. More impressive yet, the interaction of May and of her long-suffering daughter played by Joan Allen. Wonderful performances that left us grateful that neither of us had to suffer such afflictions by our own parents.

Lifespan of a Fact

Lifespan of a Fact is a highly topical play that was written well before our current President made the question of “what is truth” so topical. The very funny comedy revolves around a critical issue—what is more important; emotional truth in an essay that tells the tragic story of a boy’s suicide, or the precise facts used in the telling of the story. And what types of facts can be shaded and what type cannot. The issues were made all the more relevant, and story more compelling, by a compelling and powerful combination of actors: Bobby Cannavale as the essay’s somewhat supercilious author, Daniel Radcliffe as the nit-picking, but very persuasive fact-checker assigned to the article and Cherry Jones as the editor who has to moderate between them and decide which facts must be correct and which can slide.

American Son

American Son is another all too topical play in which an 18 year-old black boy, the son of an estranged interracial professional couple, has gone missing. The action occurs at a police station where they are able to learn that the car was involved in an incident, but not much more. The tension leads to confrontations with the police officers, mutual recriminations between the parents and ongoing insights into the challenges faced by a privileged black boy growing up in a white environment. Tensions only grow as the parents get new information, one bit at a time, over the course of the long night. Yet another very powerful play.

The Ferryman

The Ferryman was another huge winner that combined the joy of a rural Irish harvest dinner celebration with some quirky characters (especially the unexpectedly literate uncle; the cantankerous aunt and the only occasionally lucid and winsome grandmother), a quasi-functional wife; a latent love affair; a few unwelcome guests; and a very dark, eventually dominant background story surrounding the IRA. Even with the large cast and various subplots, we had no trouble following the characters or the story. Even after more than three hours, we had no real lapses of attention. An incredible play with a wonderfully diverse ensemble cast and a fascinating interplay of plots all of which wove seamlessly together.

School Girls; or the African Mean Girls Play

This play is a cuttingly funny Off-Broadway comedy-drama by Jocelyn Bioh, a Ghanian actress/playwright. It portrays life in a Ghanian girls boarding school and the way beauty, and especially light-colored skin play such an important role in the girl’s self-identities. These issues are examined within the context of the catty environment of a clique in which girls—and especially the clique’s leader—can be exceedingly cruel as a means of disguising their own insecurities. The ending also exposes the deceptions and the lies that can often be so easily justified in pursuit of one’s goals. It is, as the subtitle suggests, supposed to be similar to the movie and Broadway musical “Mean Girls” which we have not seen. A fun play with a number of lessons that are not easily, or fully learned.

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