Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of AMY AND THE ORPHANS?
Roundabout Theatre Company presents the world premiere of Amy and the Orphans by Lindsey Ferrentino, directed by Scott Ellis. The cast includes Vanessa Aspillaga as "Kathy," Mark Blum as "Jacob," Jamie Brewer as "Amy," Diane Davisas "Sarah," Josh McDermitt as "Bobby" and Debra Monk as "Maggie." Amy and the Orphans opened officially last night at the Laura Pels Theatre in the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre (111 West 46th Street). This will be a limited engagement through April 22, 2018. Let's see what the critics had to say!
Lindsey Ferrentino made her New York debut with her critically acclaimed play, Ugly Lies the Bone, starring Mamie Gummer in 2015 at Roundabout Underground, and returns to the Steinberg Center with her Roundabout commission, Amy and the Orphans. As part of Roundabout's commitment to foster the talent of emerging writers, each Underground playwright is commissioned to write a new play before their Underground play is produced.
After their father's death, two unhinged siblings reunite with Amy, their movie-loving sister who has Down syndrome (Jamie Brewer, "American Horror Story"). Together, they careen down the Great American Long Island Expressway, navigating strip malls, traffic jams and some serious (and not-so-serious) family drama. An unexpected turn reveals the moment that changed their lives...and the fact that Amy may be the only one who knows her own mind.
Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter: Receiving its world premiere courtesy of the Roundabout Theatre Company, this new work from the author of the acclaimed Ugly Lies the Bone attempts a delicate balancing act in its audacious blending of pathos and humor. It sometimes falls off its high wire, veering too heavily into sitcom-style characterizations and one-liners. But the consistently powerful beating heart in the writing makes it easy to overlook its tonal inconsistency.
Joe Dziemianowicz, The NY Daily News: On the surface, the play is jammed with laughs and comic relief. But ugly truths lurk underneath. But not all of the jokes or dramatic revelations convince. That includes Maggie's tale of her breast cancer-scare and Skittles. Funny? Maybe. Believable? Not really.
Robert Hofler, TheWrap: Except for those odd scenes with Davis and McDermitt, director Scott Ellis keeps things bubbling along as if "Amy and the Orphans" was a vintage Neil Simon comedy from the 1960s. That very major key is as intentional as it is inspired, and not just because Ferrentino's play rolls along so effortlessly. The playwright has a bomb up her sleeve, and when she decides to detonate it, much deeper levels of fear and apprehension are immediately revealed.
Adam Feldman, Time Out NY: Overgrown children, Jacob and Maggie are forced to reckon with the mistakes of their parents, and Ferrentino gives the audience a leg up on that understanding through flashbacks to their mother and father (Diane Davis and Josh McDermitt) at a couples-therapy retreat in the 1960s. These scenes carry the bulk of the play's dramatic weight; otherwise, Amy and the Orphans is slim. Monk and Blum do fine, funny work, and Vanessa Aspillaga is wonderfully vivid as Amy's pregnant caregiver, but the main attraction is Brewer's presence. It's not just a gimmick; it's the point of the play, a statement for visibility. The casting is the message, and Brewer makes it effective.