Volume 79, Number 7 | July 22 - 28, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Photo by Nat Chitwood
The capable cast of Mother
Family gathers, bickers with help of Mother alcohol
Talented cast cant quite elevate ambitious but flat play
BY SCOTT HARRAH
Buck Henry and Holland Taylor breathe badly needed life into Lisa Ebersoles ambitious but flat one-act comedy-drama Mother. The story of the Leroy family gathering at West Virginia resort a few days before New Years sees the two veteran actors play Kitty and Joseph who endlessly quarrel with each other and their two children, Kate (played by playwright Lisa Ebersole) and Jackie (Haskell King).
Despite excellent performances from Henry and Taylor, its difficult for them and the rest of the cast to overcome the limitations of Ebersoles pointless material and its familiar theme of family discord. Although the script has a few potent lines, most of the attempts at humor are weak.
I have great legs. Theyre the reason your father married me, Kitty tells her son when he asks why she isnt wearing pantyhose to the dinner table.
use some moisturizer then, Jackie responds.
Thats about as funny as Mother gets. All the action transpires in a hotel dining room, but suspense builds when a mysterious note arrives (making the family think daughter Kate has been kidnapped). Its a great plot twist, but too undeveloped as is the storyline in general to make much sense to audiences.
Director Andrew Grosso makes the narrative flow at a natural pace, but its hard to like this dysfunctional family. Kates a spoiled 31-year-old, and brother Jackie is dating a married woman. Ebersole and Haskells performances are good, but their characters are too one-dimensional. Fortunately, the razor-sharp comic timing of Buck Henry and Holland Taylor make the story plausible because they flesh out their troubled characters with conviction and aplomb.