Theatre Critic: THIS DAY FORWARD: Show Review by Robin Gorman Newman

(Photo by Carol Rosegg)

(Photo by Carol Rosegg)

Fresh from walking down the aisle, Martin (Michael Crane) is itching to make love to his Donna Reed-ish looking bride Irene (Holley Gain) in their swanky hotel room, though she is anything but willing.  After squirming out of his arms and warning he’s not gonna like the bomb she’s about to drop, she confesses she never loved him, and advises that Emil (Joe Tippett), who she is mad for, is enroute to the hotel.

Between the comical fisticuffs of Emil and Martin, and the laughable motley twosome of a fast talking Polish chamber maid (June Gable) and her bellhop son (Andrew Burnap), who is poking around to see what he might pilfer, the honeymoon suite becomes the site of farcical shenanigans that set the stage for a later complete reversal of tone.

In Act II, nearly 50 years later, we meet Irene’s adult daughter Sheila (married with children and living in CT), and her gay son Noah (also Crane), who is a successful television director, and his romantic partner and actor Leo (an earnest Burnap).  Irene, now a widower, has been living with Sheila who has lost patience due to Irene’s dementia episodes, and she wants Noah to take over.  When Irene is found at the airport attempting to board a plane to Acapulco and enjoying a Toblerone chocolate bar, Sheila (a frenzied Francesca Faridany) reaches her wits end, and a family caucus is held at Nate’s sleek NYC apartment.

In a touching dementia dream-like sequence, we see Irene and Emil when they were in love, and older Irene finds out why he never continued to pursue her on her wedding night when she intended to leave Martin.

Act I is overplayed and stretched, and Act II is laden with familiar family issues and mental illness, and neither feels entirely successful or fresh.  While a welcome dose of Silver’s biting humor is in place, it’s like watching two would-be skits joined at the hip.  Silver is a master of irreverent pop references, including Irene’s reading Blubber by Judy Blume, and barbs like Irene’s “I made you gay to spite your father,” but, they grow thin.

Family eccentricities and the childhood scars that plague adults is typical terrain for Silver, a playwright whose work I admire (I enjoyed THE LYONS on Broadway with Linda Lavin….yet another tough as nails matriarch.), but there are no new revelations or any compelling depth of emotion.  We get that Sheila and Noah lack loving childhood memories (Martin hit him with a belt.) and that Irene’s marriage to Martin was a dark sham.  Not sure what we’re left with after all the bickering dust settles.

The cast performs admirably, and Gable is a standout, adding both comic levity as the chamber maid and tender sensitivity as the aged Irene.

Taking a line from the play…..”Shared misery doesn’t make people partners”…….nor does it make for a play when the turf has been covered more effectively in the past.

THIS DAY FORWARD, directed by Mark Brokaw, features scenic design (with thoughtful detail) by Allen Moyer, costumes by Kaye Voyce, lighting by David Lander, and original music and sound design by David Van Tieghem.