Too Much, Too Much, Too Many. Roundabout Underground (see Off Broadway). By Meghan Kennedy. Directed by Sheryl Kaller. With Rebecca Henderson, Luke Kirby, Phyllis Somerville. Running time: 1hr 15mins. No intermission.
Too Much, Too Much, Too Many: in brief
The Roundabout's fruitful Underground wing begins its seventh season with Meghan Kennedy's bittersweet play about a hard-grieving widow and the priest who tries to get her to leave her room. Sheryl Kaller (Next Fall) directs a cast comprising Rebecca Henderson, Luke Kirby, James Rebhorn and Phyllis Somerville.
Too Much, Too Much, Too Many: theater review by Jenna Scherer
Grief and its many avatars are the subject of Meghan Kennedy’s down-tempo drama. If Too Much, Too Much, Too Many were worse, it could be a Lifetime movie: Elderly father (James Rebhorn) dies under tragic circumstances; wife (Somerville) locks herself in their bedroom and refuses to leave; adult daughter (Henderson) becomes a borderline recluse, until a conveniently sexy pastor (Kirby) steps in to breathe a little wisdom and chiseled-jawliness into their self-created prison. And of course, they teach him something too—because shared knowledge, like shared sadness, is an infinite commodity.
Too Much does have a tendency to drift into mawkish territory, particularly when Kennedy’s language veers toward the florid and whenever a Billie Holiday tune starts playing on an old record player (no offense to Lady Day). And a few plot points are annoyingly elided in the name of sentimentality.
But there’s a bracing nihilism that freights all that Hallmark stuff with some true pathos, and Kennedy’s schmaltzier inclinations are mitigated by Sheryl Kaller’s lucid, unfussy staging. Roundabout Underground’s production also benefits from an all-around solid ensemble—the likably brittle Somerville, the subdued Henderson, the charismatic Kirby. Rebhorn does a sharp job in flashback scenes as the deceased dad, but the play would be more powerful if we didn't see him at all.
Still, much of the story will resonate with anyone who has dealt with loss. Kennedy just needs to learn at what point the saccharine levels become, yes, too much.—Theater review by Jenna Scherer
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