BWW Review: Bad Choices Have Lasting Impact In Nicky Silver's THIS DAY FORWARD
As with their Vineyard Theatre success of five years ago, THE LYONS, in THIS DAY FORWARD, the team of playwright Nicky Silver and director Mark Brokaw display an impressive talent for packaging complex family drama as hip, off-beat comedy before getting to the guts of the long-term effects of dysfunctionality.
The first act of their return to the 15th Street venue takes place in 1958, and the young couple who occupy designer Allen Moyers' rendering of a lovely room in New York's St. Regis Hotel has just escaped their wedding reception and are to take off the next day for a honeymoon in Acapulco.
While Martin (Michael Crane) is ready to begin sharing the intimacies of married life, Irene (Holley Fain) takes the moment to admit to her new husband that she's in love with another man; a poor but sexy bad boy named Emil (Joe Tippett). Since her parents preferred she accept the hand of financially stable Martin, Irene decided to avoid conflict and allowed herself to get caught up in the excitement of having a fancy wedding. ("It's like a big birthday party, with better cake!")
Through circumstances that would stretch the limits of sitcom believability, but still entertain via Silver's snappy dialogue, a confrontation of sorts arises between the two men while Irene gets lectured on the realities of life by the bitter Polish immigrant hotel maid Melka (June Gable), who keeps hinting for the bride to hire her as a live-in.
In the second act, set in 2004, we learn that the now-widowed Irene spent 44 years in an unhappy abusive marriage. The setting is the Manhattan loft apartment of her son Noah (Crane), a successful theatre director transitioning into television. His relationship with unknown actor Leo (Andrew Burnap) may not be the most romantic, but it makes for amusing banter. (Before heading to the bedroom for a quickie, Leo asks, "Can we turn that picture of you with Hal Prince to the wall? It makes me feel like my grandfather's watching.")
The arrival of Noah's sister Sheila (Francesca Faridany) brings up the matter of who should be taking care of their mentally deteriorating mother. When the elderly Irene (Gable) shows up, she's a bitter woman whose children are now displaying the effects of her bad life decisions, but since this is a Nicky Silver play, the situation is defined with wisecracking humor that keeps the audience safely emotionally detached.
While THIS DAY FORWARD can certainly use a bit of punching up dramatically, and at its present state seems to require a bit of padding to fill out its two acts, the solid work of Brokow's ensemble keeps interest from sagging.