BWW Reviews: ANY GIVEN MONDAY at Delaware Theatre Company
Delaware Theatre Company opened its 2013-2014 Season with a dark (very dark) comedy, Any Given Monday, by Bruce Graham and directed by Bud Martin. MR. Martin, who is starting his second year as DTC's Executive Director, has a strong association with this show. He was Producing Artistic Director at Act II Playhouse in Philadelphia when Any Given Monday was originally presented (in co-production with Theatre Exile), and directed the New York production at 59E59.
This is a comedy that offers plenty of laughs, but many of them come with a question: "Is it really OK to laugh at that?" Race, religion, and what may, at first, seem simple questions of right and wrong are viewed from a different perspective and analyzed with a different logic than most people would apply. My conclusion was that it was, indeed, OK to laugh; it was very funny.
Sarah (Lucy DeVito) sets the scene. She is a senior philosophy major, concerned about her father, a warm, good-hearted man, a public school English teacher. Only a few days before, his comfortable existence was uprooted when his wife of 24 years suddenly announced that she was leaving him for another man. True to his nature, he didn't make a scene; he carried his wife's bag to the car for her. Since then, he has retreated to the den of his suburban Philadelphia home.
Risa (Leslie Hendrix), the errant wife, is seen "enjoying" cocktails with Frank, the successful real estate developer for whom she left her husband. Frank's presence is implied by Risa's conversation and gestures. All in all, she seems a bit uncomfortable with the situation.
Lenny (Kenny Morris), the cuckolded husband, is roused from sleep by the arrival of his friend Mickey (Michael Mastro) to watch Monday Night Football. Like Sarah, Mickey has been concerned about his friend's mental health. They both feel that Lenny should be more angry than accepting of Risa's betrayal. The opposite of Lenny, Mickey is active and loud. When he enters, he sets things in motion, and they are soon twisting and turning so fast that it's almost impossible to anticipate the next direction they will take.
Mickey is, of course, the most memorable character. He has most of the best lines. (Indeed, he may have most of the lines.) Mr. Mastro fills the stage with Mickey. He knows the character well, having previously played Mickey in the New York production. His monologues, quips, and asides keep the play moving.
True to Lenny's self-effacing character, Mr. Morris, at least for most of the play, is more reactive than active. He shows us a man struggling to defend a life of reason and moderation, even in the face of almost unbearable pain, against a strangely reasonable new worldview.
Ms. DeVito presents us with a young woman as sure of everything as a young woman about to earn a degree in philosophy can be - which is very sure. And yet she finds that new situations bring new truths, and she learns to adapt.
Risa is a far cry from the character that many people will associate with Ms. Hendrix - that of Dr. Elizabeth Rodgers, the dispassionate medical examiner who kept the "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" detectives informed. Risa's character seemed to me to have been inserted more as a device than a person, but Ms. Hendrix breathes life into it. She also provides the only "evidence" we get that Frank exists.
Director Bud Martin keeps the energy flowing, requiring the audience to accept some "reasoning" before it's fully processed. Dirk Durossette's set presents a wonderful example of a suburban middle class man cave, complete with wet bar and access to the back yard. Wade Laboissonniere gave the characters totally appropriate garb, including a couple of complete (and one very special) changes for Mickey. Jim Leitner's lighting sets a quiet mood for Lenny's refuge, brightens it for Lenny's "enlightenment" by Mickey and Sarah, and gives us a nicely crafted space for Risa's affair. John Stovicek gives the show just the right dose of TV sound - Monday Night Football for Mickey and Lenny to react to, and the conclusion of "To Kill a Mockingbird" that opens the show (and provides a key reflection).