The Golden Year. WorkShop Theater (see the Off-Off List). By Daniel Damiano. Directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan. With Gerry Goodstein, Ellen Barry, Joseph Franchini. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.
The Golden Year: plot synopsis
A Long Island couple finds retirement a lot less sedate than expected in a new play by Daniel Damiano, directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan.
The Golden Year: theater review by Jenna Scherer
Retirement is both the trap and the way out in The Golden Year, Daniel Damiano’s new play about what it means to be old in America. “I don’t want the rest of my life to be a diversion,” opines Jean (Barry), one half of a sexagenarian couple who have both recently cashed in their pensions. While her husband, Joe (Goodstein), is comfortably ensconced in his recliner, dreaming of daytime-TV viewing and lazy trips to Europe, she’s pacing the living room like a rat in a cage.
To fill her days, she takes a role in a community-theater production of a play about the Great Depression. At first, it’s a laugh: We see first-time actress Jean hamming it up as she runs lines with Joe, who is bemused but supportive of his wife’s new hobby. But when unexpected financial troubles hit, her character’s platitude-filled monologues about keeping your chin up in hard times begin to take on a whole new dimension.
The Golden Year starts out dull, but picks up steam. If Damiano cut the first 20 minutes of the piece—and if his characters repeated each other’s names 80 percent less—he’d have a much stronger one-act show. Barry and Goodstein are fine with the forgettable sitcommy banter of the opening, but they really shine when the vagaries of the world begin to encroach on their serene home. The plight of the retiree is one you rarely encounter in drama, because from the outside it looks like an ending. But in a world where the aging, trusty systems are coming apart, there are just as many questions on the other side of 65 as there are on the way up.—Theater review by Jenna Scherer
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Having had the good fortune of seeing this funny, heartfelt and gripping new play, it boggles my mind how a reviewer can choose to focus on her adverse feelings on the "opening" of a play as opposed to the majority of the play which, it seems, she did like. She clearly focused on what little she didn't like as opposed to the majority what she did; the first two scenes (her 20 minutes) and saying the names too many times, out of a 90 minute , 16 scene play?!!! That is absolutely absurd. Not only is this a play for our times that really deserves to be seen from top to bottom, but it is a play that has two plum, multi-dimensional roles for older actors, which in and of itself is extremely rare. Therefore, it's all the more a shame that this reviewer chose to focus on a mere quibble for the majority of her one paragraph of actual review, as opposed to really accenting the merits of this intelligent and thought-provoking play.