The Family Furniture – The Rigid 50s

 

McCormick-Scolari

McCormick-Scolari

Nordin-Bolger

Nordin-Bolger

Scolari-Mendes

Scolari-Mendes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Sandi Durell

 

 

A.R. Gurney can always be relied upon for a peak into small town ordinary lives.  Here on the shores of Lake Erie, we find a country-club family on summer vacation, not far from Buffalo, NY.

Mom, Dad, their two college age children – prim, proper speaking pleasantly to each other with socially acceptable manners.  But all is not peaches n’ cream!

Lives have the same complications whether rich or poor.  So when Claire (a very stylish, well spoken Carolyn MCormick) says she’s going to New York City to buy fabric for the couch and can’t be reached in her room at 11 pm by her concerned husband Russell (Peter Scolari), something seems amiss as he expresses his anxiety to his son Nick (Andrew Keenan-Bolger).  Nick, in discussing this with his sister Peggy (Ismenia Mendes) inadvertently receives more information from her when she nonchalantly happens to mention that one of her friend’s fathers also happens to be in New York for an overnight, perking up Nick’s ears to other possibilities.

This is a world of cocktails, highly civilized conversation and . . . tennis.  So, as Nick becomes more and more sullen at the thought that his mom and friend’s father are having a fling, he broods and broods – but just a little too much.

Nick is seeing a Jewish girl, Betsy (Molly Nordin), who plays an outgoing bold stereotype, and Peggy is seeing  Marco, who is Italian-American whom dad says needs to be involved with his roots; either he’ll become a gangster or a politician – ha, ha.  Russell makes it clear that it was because of his orchestration of the committee, that Betsy’s family had an easier time finding a house in their community!

As the play progresses, the evidence grows against Claire; Peggy is sent off to Italy in order to get her away from Marco (and she comes home pregnant).  The tensions grow but in a more rigid fashion given the time frame.

Mendes gives an audacious performance, Scolari comes off tight-lipped, being not prone to explosive behavior, Bolger ruminates far greater than necessary and McCormick is quite lovely in her portrayal of a willowy, upper middle class lady dealing with an illicit affair, her children and husband and a dying lover.

And speaking of furniture – less is more in a set designed by Rachel Hauck – a chair, a bookcase and several benches that morph into a couch, row boat and more.

The play is directed by Thomas Kail and continues at The Flea (41 White St.-Tribeca) thru Dec. 22nd. 212-352-3101 or online at  www.theflea.org.

*Photos: Joan Marcus

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