MOM THEATRE LOVER: The Country House: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman
Photo by Joan Marcus
Manhattan Theatre Club’s co-production of THE COUNTRY HOUSE , the new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, directed by Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan, opened Thursday, October 2 at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street).
THE COUNTRY HOUSE stars Tony and Emmy Award winner Blythe Danner, Kate Jennings Grant (The Lyons, Proof), Eric Lange (FX’s “The Bridge,” “Weeds”), David Rasche (Regrets Only, Speed-the-Plow), Sarah Steele (Slowgirl, Speech and Debate), and Tony nominee Daniel Sunjata (TNT’s “Graceland,”Take Me Out).
Danner (The Commons of Pensacola, Meet the Parents) stars as Anna Patterson, the famous matriarch of a brood of creative artists who have gathered at their Berkshires summerhouse during the Williamstown Theatre Festival. They are together on the one year anniversary of the passing (from cancer) of Kathy, the beautiful, actress daughter of Anna. Staying at Anna’s home is Kathy’s collegiate, opinionated daughter Susie, Kathy’s husband Walter and his stunning fiance Nell, Kathy’s brother Eliot, and an “eye candy”actor, Michael, who is on the lust list of all women in the house.
While I’m a fan of Margulies and have admired his works particularly DINNER WITH FRIENDS and BROOKLYN BOY, THE COUNTRY HOUSE didn’t quite measure up. There are funny lines, particularly insider jokes about theatre and actors, and some strong performances, especially that of Steele, but overall it’s a lot of lively banter that doesn’t fully deliver. Lange lends the most emotion, as a down on his luck actor who has taken up playwriting (shares his less than stellar work in Act II), who briefly, coincidentally dated Nell who he is still longing for, and yearns for motherly love and acceptance, yet Anna is unable to make the parenting grade. Danner is always a delight, and is no less in command here. Her presence is a strong one, and we feel her pain, whether as a mother or aging celebrity.
The creative team for THE COUNTRY HOUSE includes John Lee Beatty (scenic design), Rita Ryack (costume design), Peter Kaczorowski (lighting design), Obadiah Eaves (sound design), Peter Golub (original music), and Thomas Schall (fight direct0r).
THE COUNTRY HOUSE was commissioned by MTC through the U.S. Trust New American Play Commissioning Program. It is produced in association with the Geffen Playhouse. THE COUNTRY HOUSE received a world premiere co-production by Geffen Playhouse and Manhattan Theatre Club at Geffen Playhouse on June 3, 2014.
Tags: geffen playhouse, manhattan theatre club, mom theatre blogger, off broadway, the country house