Monday, November 18, 2013

Quick Hit Off-Broadway Review: Domesticated

Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Goldblum and Misha Seo. Photo: Joan Marcus
By Bruce Norris
Directed by Anna D. Shapiro
Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, Lincoln Center

What's It All About?
Vanessa Aspillaga, Mia Barron, Robin De Jesus, Jeff Goldblum, Lizbeth Mackay, Emily Meade, Mary Beth Peil, Karen Pittman and Misha Seo join Laurie Metcalf in a new play by Bruce Norris (Pulitzer-Prize winner for Clybourne Park). 

When doctor-turned-politician Bill (Goldblum) is caught in a scandal, his author wife, Judy (Metcalf) stands by him, even though the prostitute he was entertaining, Becky (Aleque Reid), is in a coma and Bill might or might not have put her there by causing her head injury. His actions have a negative effect on his family. Daughter Casey (Emily Meade), who gives new meaning to the words angry, rebellious child when her college tuition money is in jeopardy, and adopted daughter Cassidy (Misha Seo), who internalizes her insecurities. Even housekeeper Pilar (Vanessa Aspillaga) gets caught in the backlash.

Bill's plight is very amusingly compared throughout the play with Cassie's school report on the dominance of females and the virtual unimportance of the male in certain species. Slides are shown on screens above the action which takes pace on a minimal in-the-round set, through which designer Todd Rosenthal creates the image of a boxing ring. A fight to the death is more what happens for the couple's marriage, especially when Judy discovers that Bill's infidelities have been many and include her best friend and his attorney, Bobbie (Mia Barron). The situation becomes more difficult when the prostitute's mother, Jackie (Lizbeth Mackay), takes her story public. 

Clueless Bill just doesn't seem to understand what all the fuss is about and is surprised when women might object to his resuming his career as a gynecologist.... 

"What am I, a salmon?" he asks. "I'm supposed to mate once and die?"

Maybe it has something to do with how he was raised by a mother (Mary Beth Piel in one of four roles) who still thinks he can do no wrong? When he complains to his family that he isn't happy, we want to laugh him out the door.

What Are the Highlights?
Metcalf is brilliant as a woman betrayed, not only by her husband, but by her own ability to discern what is happening around her or to control it. The dialogue is witty and bitingly true. Goldblum brings enough to his reprehensible character to make him understandable if not likable. Standing out is Karen Pittman who is an absolute hoot as an Oprah-like television interviewer. I suspect I will be in the minority on this, but I liked Domesticated far more than Clybourne Park. Funny, dark stuff expertly directed. Metcalf's sharp, sarcastic dialogue contains a lot of unfinished sentences -- but we know exactly how to fill in the blanks.

What Are the Lowlights?
Some of the plot twists verge on the absurd.The second act loses steam.

Domesticated plays at the Mitzi E. Newhouse theater at Lincoln enter, 150 West 65th St., NYC. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $75 to $85: box office;  A limited number of tickets priced at $30 are available at every performance through LincTix, LCT’s program for 21 to 35 year olds.  For information and to enroll, visit

Christians might also like to know:
-- Language
-- Very graphic, Sexual dialogue
-- God's name taken in vain
-- Transvestite

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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 concept, "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 Intensive and other 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

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (, an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for She previously served as theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer, Connecticut theater editor for 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. She is a former vice preseint and voting member of The Drama Desk.

She is a freelance writer and playwright (member Dramatists Guild of America). She is a member if the The Outer Critics Circle (event manager for the annual awards ceremony), The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and the Drama League. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists.

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

She also is a member of the Episcopal Actors' Guild, the NY Public Library for the Performing Arts and The O'Neill Theatre Center..

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


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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