nytheatre.com review by David Gordon
October 22, 2011
There’s nothing technically wrong with Scott Alan Evans’s production of A.R. Gurney’s 1974 play Children for The Actors Company Theatre. There’s just nothing inherently special about it, either.
Set over July 4th weekend, 1970, Children, suggested by John Cheever’s Goodbye, My Brother, finds an extended family on the brink of destruction gathered at their Massachusetts beach house (the picturesque set and lighting are by Brett J. Banakis and Bradley King). The matriarch (Darrie Lawrence) is to be remarried to a family friend, affectionately referred to as “Uncle Billy,” following the drowning death of her husband some years earlier. A tense yet enjoyable weekend of tennis and swimming turns dangerous with the arrival of her son Pokey (unseen for most of the piece), who demands that his brother and sister (Margaret Nichols and Richard Thieriot) buy out his share of the family home after mother leaves to re-start her life.
I’m not entirely sure why TACT chose Children to open their season, though pairing this family of WASPs with the extremely Jewish family of Neil Simon’s Lost in Yonkers, which will be their spring production, is a fascinating concept. Children isn’t the most entertaining play Gurney’s ever written, and Evans’s snail-like pacing doesn’t help the meandering script. Still, the company, which also features Lynn Wright, navigates the material well, especially Lawrence, whose old-school, patrician terseness is simply marvelous.