Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Big Meal

A delicious meal is being served up at Playwrights Horizons upstairs in the Peter Jay Sharp Theater.  Dan LeFranc's new play is about life, or more appropriately life - fast forward -  and it's a 90 minute sprint thru the generations spawned by Sam and Nicole from first date to life's end.  It's about family, friends, fighting, and fidelity.  It's about looking at the big picture rather than dwelling on the tiny details.

And yet, Director, Sam Gold, lets no detail go unnoticed.  Mr. LeFranc's poignant dialogue is well constructed and realistically links the many generations together thru many a small detail - a locket, a yellow ribbon, cocktails, and photographs to name a few.   I must admit, on a few occasions, I got a little confused as to who was who and where in the chain of the family we were.  Mr. Gold's duty, and anyone who helms this play in the future, is to do as much as they can to ensure the audience is following along exactly as Mr. LeFranc intended.

The actors  - a cast of eight plus one - navigate the characters, seamlessly and creatively transforming and transitioning themselves from generation to generation. (Anita Gillette and Tom Bloom; Jennifer Mudge and David Wilson Barnes; Phoebe Strole and Cameron Scoggins; Rachel Resheff and Griffin Birney)  The main device employed here is that as the characters age, the entire cast all jump a level down to play the same character just played by a younger actor to simulate the aging process and allow a younger generation to enter the dynamic and propel the story forward.  (See, even trying to explain it gets complicated.  Imagine watching it at full-throttle!).  Everyone was delightful but especially-so was the always-lovely Anita Gillette who ends the show on one of most poignant and thoughtful moments I've seen in the theatre in a long time.

The play, with such a swift pace, often comes to a dead stop (pun intended) when a meal is served and while there are no surprises here, it's always a moment to pause and reflect (kudos Molly Ward - the only actor to play a single, constant character).

Stop over to Playwrights Horizons and join the audience each night to fill your soul with some perspective on a life - with the fast forward button firmly engaged.