Advertisement
 
Saturday, June 25, 2016
Amsterdam, NY ,

 

Advertisement

Review: Edie Falco shines in touching 'The Madrid'

Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Updated: 4:51 PM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Humans, we're told, have an ingrained flight-or-fight impulse. We either flee stress or stay and put up our mitts. The hero of Liz Flahive's new play is definitely in the first group.

Martha, a kindergarten teacher played with usual soulfulness by Edie Falco, is a runner. In fact, the first scene opens with her teaching a class of children and then slipping away, telling them, "I'll be right back."

But she won't be back. She's been planning this escape for a long time. For the rest of the play, it's up to her family -- husband, college-age daughter and mother -- to come to grips with the hole made by Martha's abdication.

They do it exceedingly quietly, befitting a play with a hero who bolts rather than fights. There are few fireworks or tears in Flahive's touching, funny and beautiful play, whose world premiere is produced by the Manhattan Theatre Club and opened Tuesday at New York City Center.

This is the second play for Flahive, a writer for Falco's Showtime show "Nurse Jackie," and her characters are deeply grounded and her dialogue profound without being flashy. And with the addition of an adolescent giant, she even seems to flirt with magical realism.

Martha, we learn, has fled without warning to a run-down apartment complex downtown named The Madrid and is living out a sort of post-mid-life-crisis fantasy. She spends her days in a bar and has decorated her new apartment as if she were in college again, complete with beanbag chair, a Jane Fonda poster and fold-up bed. She has left her cellphone behind.

She does this now rather than ferry her doddering mother (a feisty Frances Sternhagen) to the grocery story or chitchat with her husband (a sad sack John Ellison Conlee) or hover over her daughter (a solid Phoebe Strole). Martha has wanted to flee for years but had to wait until her daughter was grown.

"I never understood how you didn't mind the endlessness," she tells her husband. "Every time she needed me less, I thought: one more tether loose. Almost there. She can walk. She can swim. She's grown. Fully educated. And you're both still here. Waiting for me."

Falco is simply wonderful as a woman rediscovering who she is, trying to let go and yet also reconnect with her daughter. A fixed, forced smile is often plastered on her lips as she tries to explain herself and she fights to stay free from the pull of obligations. Falco's sheer skill in plumbing disappointment, steely resolve and excitement at the same time sometimes papers over a character that needs more definition.

Adding complexity to this family in quiet crisis is a neighboring couple -- a first-rate Heidi Schreck and an angst-filled Christopher Evan Welch (soon to be replaced by Darren Goldstein).

They are smothering oversharers and constant worriers. "I hear myself talk sometimes and I want to leave," confesses the husband. One of their sons, played by Seth Clayton, makes a lovely late appearance as a very tall teen suffering from a bizarre condition.

The play ends too easily, with a happy bow that seems too hopeful and kind for some of the play's themes. A woman who bolts a seemingly happy suburban life is fascinating terrain to explore, but Martha's exploration gets cut short just when things were getting serious.

     

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Advertisement
Subscribe to The Recorder

 

The Recorder Sports Schedule

Most Popular

    Lawmakers pass bill requiring schools to test water for lead
    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Marcellino vows never to fight at Foxwoods again after controversial loss
    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    City to sell some foreclosed properties ahead of auction
    Thursday, June 23, 2016

    City to renew with insurance company it's suing over claim
    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    County committee signs off on joining land bank
    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    Tests show F-FCS drinking water safe
    Tuesday, June 21, 2016

    Legislators discuss law to raise tobacco purchasing age to 21
    Wednesday, June 22, 2016

    Ralph R. Compani
    Monday, June 20, 2016

    Congressional primaries include 4 for open seats
    Monday, June 20, 2016

    SUNY Cobleskill to offer bachelor degree in fermentation
    Monday, June 20, 2016

Advertisement

Copyright © McClary Media, Inc.

Privacy Policies: The Recorder

Contact Us

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook