Northlight Theatre. By Amanda Peet. Directed by Robin Witt. With Linda Kimbrough, Lusia Strus, Erik Hellman, Leah Karpel, Lori Myers, Lily Mojekwu. Running time: 1hr 30mins; no intermission.
Theater review by Kris Vire
This 2013 piece, the first play by the actress Amanda Peet, is a curious affair. It takes as its premise the aftereffects of a Bernie Madoff–like investment scandal on the convicted fraudster's family. The unseen figure's wife, Judith (Linda Kimbrough), is living in "exile" in a Florida condo, where her daughter Becca (Lusia Strus), an unemployed, 43-year-old struggling actor, arrives for Thanksgiving with a much-younger boyfriend (Erik Hellman) and a proposal for mom to sell their story as reality TV.
Director Robin Witt and a cast of actors who deserve to be doing something more interesting do their best to give us a return on our investment, but Peet's script is something of a Ponzi scheme itself: a precariously fabricated stack of contrivances that also involves Becca's teenage niece (Leah Karpel), a hurricane, an emergency-room visit and a freezer full of cash. We're meant, I think, to wonder whether Judith knew about her husband's dealings and, if not, how she blinded herself to them. Instead, you find yourself pondering other questions, such as: Why do people keep going outside in a hurricane, other than the playwright needed to get rid of them for a while? Why didn't Becca see her boyfriend's clearly impending betrayal coming when we all spotted it miles away? Are we supposed to care about any of this? Like the patriarch's victims, we're left wanting.