Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Theater Review: In the Daylight

Joseph Urla, Concetta Tomei and Sharon Maguire
on the terrific set of In the Daylight.

A Humorous Journey into Dysfunction
By Lauren Yarger
Add a little dismembering to dysfunction with a sprinkling of laugh-out-loud humor and you get In the Daylight, Tony Glazer’s surprising new play being presented Off-Broadway by Choice Theatricals in association with Vital Theatre Company.

The play is surprising because you can’t help but like it, despite the too-often used dysfunctional family plot and some hokey plot twists. The charm comes from Glazer’s one-line zingers and the creation of a mother-from-hell character that makes Medea almost seem preferable.

The action takes place on Christopher Barreca’s terrifically stark, jagged and sharply angled set that embodies the maladjusted family as well as their descent into an abyss of madness. A single funereal urn on a pedestal down stage left adds the only color to the all-white, hard plastic-like setting.

Famous writer Martin Feingold (Joseph Urla) finally has returned home six years after his father’s death to deal with the ashes and to face his mother, Elizabeth (Concetta Tomei), whom he thinks is dying, and sister, Jessica (Sharon Maguire) who feels he has abandoned her to deal with all of the hard work of looking after their mother and their father’s medical finance business. An added wrinkle is that Martin’s latest best seller, “True Blue,” accused Jessica and Elizabeth, if subtly, of murdering his father William (Jay Patterson), whose spirit still wanders the tormented walls of the house in search of a drink.

Their reunion is less than tender. Jessica and Martin pick up brother-sister bickering right where they left off. Martin complains about having to deal with fans and relates the adoration of an overly zealous groupie whom he sat next to on the plane. Jessica isn’t impressed and starts in on Martin about his excessive drinking (in a nice move from director John Gould Rubin, Martin literally follows in the steps of his alcoholic ghost father).

His welcome home is made complete by Elizabeth who responds to his cheerful greeting with, “I suggest you take that smug look off your face before I wipe it off with my foot.”

When Martin asks what his mother’s plans are for disposing of the ashes, she responds that she’d like to have some French toast first then flush them down the toilet.

Let’s just say that she just gets even less charming after that, until the arrival of an unexpected guest during the hurricane brewing outside (nice light and sound design by Thom Weaver and Elizabeth Rhodes. I particularly liked a shadow effect following the father as he crept up the stairs).

The visitor is Martin’s groupie from the plane, returning his lost Blackberry. The southern drawled, not exactly the brightest bulb in the box (too bad, because the storm forces the power out) Charlotte (Ashley Austin Morris) is invited to stay and dry off, a request that gives sadistic pleasure to Elizabeth and Jessica and torture to Martin as Charlotte reveals information about him from the author's internet fan sites.

Soon, the plot takes a number of twists and nothing and no one is as they seemed. Although the twists are fairly predictable, and even over-the-top when it comes to plausibility, this dark comedy still is enjoyable and Tony Glazer is an author on whom to keep an eye. The best part is, that after viewing the Feingolds in action, you’ll question whether or not you can any longer classify your own family as dysfunctional.

In the Daylight runs through Oct. 11 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, 2162 Broadway, 4th floor at 76th St. For tickets phone (212) 579-0528 or visit http://www.vitaltheatre.org/.

Christians might also like to know:
• Language
• Sexually suggestive dialogue
• Violence
• God’s name taken in vain
• Reincarnation discussed

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists. Her play "From Reel to Real: The Jennifer O'Neill Story" was presented as part of the League of professional Theatre Women's Julia's reading Room Series in New York in February 2018.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com. She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

She is a Co-Founder of the Connecticut Chapter of the League of Professional Theatre Women.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle. and the Episcopal Actors' Guild.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.


All material is copyright 2008- 2018 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com


Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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