Off-Broadway drama cast with characters to savor
- Why see it:
Summary and thoughts:
Dramatic plays have been my favorite stage craft. In this era they are drowned out by musicals, but some digging may uncover a gem.
The shiny object drawing me to Party Face is Hayley Mills, who acquired fame in movies as a child. A handful of partners glow equally under these lights, each a unique character. Six actresses give a solid effort.
Carmel (Mills) is mother to Mollie (Gina Costigan) and Maeve (Brenda Meaney). Bernie (Klea Blackhurst) provides comic relief, and Chloe (Allison Jean White) is the captivating catalyst creating many of the magic moments.
Do the actors quickly lose their accents in this imported-from-Dublin show? Perhaps; I credit the story as well as the actors for becoming my focus rather than their voices. The show feels very American (I hope that is not an insult).
Brenda seems comfortably natural biding her time while subtly signaling her role’s big moment will come. Gina is the eye of the storm but underplays the role. Allison is the lightning for any dark moments. Klea has a different tempo, consistent with the ‘different drummer’ in her character’s head, adding liveliness.
Isobel Mahon wrote a good piece, ambitiously trying to amuse, entertain, tell a tale, and surprise. While those elements certainly maintain a pace that keeps one’s attention, it’s a stretch to roll so much into this script. I defer to the professionals and think one may be forced to be expansive when competing for the New York audience (or perhaps those in Dublin).
The play does not attempt to psychoanalyze the family psychosis too deeply, and also doesn’t dwell on morals or try to change society. The opportunity is there to make mental illness a cause, but the stress and disorder of it are used to round out characters for theatergoers to relish.
I’ll look to further encourage City Center’s support of this genre, its playwrights, actors, and producers. They did well putting on their Party Face.
Viewed February 25, 2018, City Center Theater, NY, NY.