BWW Review: Seattle Rep's THE GREAT MOMENT is a Moment but Not So Great
If you're going to put up an autobiographical play, then you need at least one of two things. You either need a life, or a moment in your life, in which something extraordinary happened, or you need to have moments that amount to a message or meaning that is not widely known by your audience. The Seattle Rep's world premiere of Anna Ziegler's "The Great Moment" has neither of these things. Instead, it amounts to one of my theatrical pet peeves, someone else's therapy on stage.
In Ziegler's play she, under the name Sarah on stage and played by Alexandra Tavares, narrates us through the years when she was coping with a precocious young son Evan, played by Eugene Lee who also plays her Father, and a Grandfather, played by Greg Mullavey, who's at the end of his long life. Evan asks question after question, as young kids do, on the nature of time, life, death, and cake, while Max recounts moments and songs in his life.
Some of Ziegler's other plays, such as "Photograph 51" and "Boy", which I've enjoyed very much, focus on the interesting and unique events in others' lives. Here she focuses on events and situations that most people come in contact with, in an effort to come to a message of "time is fleeting" or something like that. We know that. I learned that from "The Time Warp" in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". So, I'm not certain what new information she was trying to impart.
The only things that made the evening somewhat interesting were a decent cast (for the most part), especially Tavares who could make the pages of a phone book sound engaging, and the fact that Ziegler does write good dialog. But on the whole, this feels like and exercise in Ziegler working through her feelings over the loss of a relative and the love of her children. But why are you telling me all this? That was the question, I never got answered in the play.
As I mentioned, the cast does what they can with this but by the very nature of the play, it feels a bit flat and one-note. Tavares is wonderful and always has been but feels wasted here. Mullavey is likable and fun as the Grandfather sharing his wisdom from his many years on this Earth. Lee brings in some good laughs as the ever questioning Evan. And Kathryn Grody is charming as Sarah's Mother but doesn't have much to do and comes across as a bit stiff and presentational.
I guess the moral of the story is, if you're going to write yourself into a play, make sure what goes on in the play isn't something that 90% of the world deals with all the time. And so, with my three-letter rating system, I give the Seattle Rep's "The Great Moment" a lackluster MEH. Please, no more therapy on stage. I don't care who's writing it.