Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wow! James Waterston and Julianne Nicholson are GREAT in Parents' Evening

Way Off-Broadway, at a little theater called The Flea, two actors are doing amazing things in “Parents’ Evening”, a world premiere by Bathsheba Doran. These two are Julianne Nicholson and James Waterston, both familiar television actors who absolutely shine in this show.

“Parents’ Evening” has every indication that it is going to be a clichéd mess. It uses a parent teacher conference as the plot device. It makes liberal use of the gender role reversals, Julianne Nicholson as Judy, is a driven lawyer who brings home the money. James Waterston as Michael is the stay-at-home dad who is a writer with writer’s block and a looming deadline. The entire show takes place in the bedroom, mostly on a bed used for business paper work, not pleasure. The two disagree over how, or even IF, to discipline their daughter.

But as written by Bathsheba Doran, and directed with a light touch by Jim Simpson, “Parents’ Evening” moves into an interesting and unusual direction and compels the audience to tag along.

Judy and Michael have all the expected problems, but treated realistically – maybe even understatedly. And, even though in the first act you know where the characters are going, you delight in watching them get there. There is a funny touch, for those people who thought “War of the Roses” was funny but too loud. Ms. Nicholson and Mr. Waterston don’t veer into camp on one side, nor into melodramatic theatrics on the other. They play real people and we care about them.

The second act uses the parent / teacher conference results as a catalyst to break apart their settled roles. The easy and glib answers are no longer enough. The roles these parents have defined themselves into no longer fit comfortably. The bedroom (and marriage?) is too small, too confining. The easy repartee is no longer funny or easy. These two parents much rethink their relationship as partners and see what they are looking for in life.

I enjoyed it immensely.
Rating: Well Worth the Money
What works: The Acting!
What doesn't work: Some stage business in the second act (a minor complaint)
What you get to brag about to your friends: You saw a World Premiere show with some familiar TV Stars doing amazing work

James Waterston
Julianne Nicholson

Directed by Jim Simpson

also reviewed for musicOMH

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