Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, November 3, 2016

This Day Forward

Upon a bit of reflection this was not the Nicky Silver play I expected.  However, that is not to say that I didn't enjoy it or it wasn't good.  I think Mr. Silver tried some new things here.  At it's core it is him - a broken, very broken, family.  However, I think he tried something new with Act I which may or may not have been successful.  Certainly Act 2 was a Nicky Silver play indeed.

In Act 1 we meet Irene and Martin - two young newlyweds in 1958.  I think this is where Mr. Silver's signature style clashed with the time.  Nicky Silver writes plays for today - not yesterday and his style has to be modified to exist in the past.  His characters had to be too much farce and not enough meat.  They have to be like caricatures to exist.  The devilishly handsomely and hunky young Andrew Burnap (Donald the bellhop) was too mean, too quick to explode, and too much a cartoon.  Michael Crane (Martin) and Holley Fein (young Irene) were too stilted and seemed to cover the same dialogue ground over and over - we got the point the first time.  Joe Tippett, the other blue eyed dreamboat (Emil) was a bit too exaggerated - I guess so that you got the point that he was different from Martin.  It wasn't as believable as it could have been,  June Gable (Melka/older Irene) was by far the best actress on the stage.  With a funny schtick in Act I and a serious and still amusing and convincing part in Act II.

Structurally, Mr. Silver has a great idea - 1958 and fast forward to 2004 two generations living the consequence of what we saw in Act 1.  He cleverly disguised the "here's what happened since" in all the dialogue and conversations.  Francesca Faridany (Shella) is spot on as the neurotic, pill popping, exasperated daughter in Act II.

Mr. Burnap and Mr Crane are now a couple (Mr. Burnap is even more dreamy).  Ms Gable takes the role of older Irene and Mr. Tippett and Ms. Fain make a cameo appearance at the end.  Act II is by far the more biting, acerbic, and serious of the two acts and judging from the audience reaction - the more successful and satisfying of the two as well.

The sets, which are usually not a Vineyard hallmark, were absolutely fantastic in both acts - Kudos Allen Moyer.  I happened to see the play on its first preview - which I only learned after it was over - and commented to myself that I would never have guessed - performances were already spiffy.  They have some things to work on of course but nothing to dash my full throated endorsement of yet another gem playing over at the Vineyard Theatre on West 15th.