A Nicky Silver premiere sets up a few reasonable expectations: There will be a horrid, selfish mother; her children will grow into unhappy adults; their dad is dead or dying. Those criteria are dutifully met in the acid-penned playwright’s new black comedy. This Day Forward employs a double period structure (the first act is set in 1958; the second in 2004) to explore Silverian motifs of emotional duplicity, toxic parenting and the notion that pain binds families as much as joy. “Shared misery doesn’t make people partners,” Noah (Michael Crane) tells his agitated sister (Francesca Faridany) regarding their mentally unstable mother. The motto could be engraved above Silver’s elegantly savage oeuvre (which includes The Lyons and Too Much Sun, also at the Vineyard).
The opening is a wedding-night farce. Recently hitched Martin (Crane) and Irene (Holley Fain) try to relax in their newlywed hotel room. Postnuptial bliss is interrupted when Irene reveals that she doesn’t really love Martin and has been carrying on a red-hot affair with gas-station worker Emil (a grease-stained and funny Joe Tippett). Such a bad beginning will never lead to a happy family, an obvious conclusion that Silver doesn’t do much to deepen or challenge after intermission. Mom never loved Dad, and 46 years later, everyone’s sad. That’s the short version of Forward, which ranks at the bottom half of Silver’s output.
Vineyard Theatre (Off Broadway). By Nicky Silver. Directed by Mark Brokaw. With Andrew Burnap, Michael Crane, Holley Fain, Francesca Faridany, June Gable, Joe Tippett. Running time: 2hrs. One intermission. Through Dec 18. Click here for full ticket and venue information.
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