By Sandi Durell
Don’t compare this stage adaptation by Dan Gordon to the highly celebrated Academy Award winning movie of 1983, written by James L. Brooks, both based on the book by Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurtry, as it is limited, due to constraints of a small theate (although the stage, split into four separate scenic areas, is cleverly conceived by David L. Arsenault) and an edited script.
Although abbreviated, both the humor and devastation of a complicated mother/daughter relationship pushes its way through as we watch Aurora Greenway, a widow (a much grown up Molly Ringwald), complain and correct just about every facet of her daughter Emma’s (Hannah Dunne) daily life, especially her choice in boyfriends, soon to be husband Flap (a wishy washy Denver Milord). Aurora would be called the mother from Hell, deflating her little girl’s ego non-stop (go on a diet, change your hair color – for openers). But her little girl has the ability to let the stings fade and move forward but not without scars.
Aurora hasn’t had a date nor sex in 10 years but between prodding and getting a little itchy herself, she begins to notice her next door neighbor, the retired Astronaut Garrett Breedlove (convincingly played by Jeb Brown) – a womanizer without boundaries. Some of the funniest moments are watching the interactions between Ringwald and Brown like bees to honey, as their relationship grows and deflates. Her dissatisfaction with everything Garrett is a major cause of why they come to a dead halt.
Over a number of years, many changes occur: Emma has three children, both she and Flap have affairs, Emma moves out, as the relationship between her and Aurora finds new levels of communication and love. Aurora and Garrett, too, grow and come together when tragedy strikes Hannah’s life. The ending still resounds as the tear-jerker you recall in the film.
Molly Ringwald gives a fine performance as the ego-centric female who learns how to care for more than herself. Hannah Dunne is making her professional debut in this production and resonates.
The cast is rounded out by John C. Vennema who plays the all too pragmatic Dr. Maise and Jessica DiGiovanni who does justice to each of her roles as Patsy/Doris/Nurse. Michael Parva (Artistic Director of the The Directors Company) moves the cast along at a sprightly pace.
This is a yeoman’s job bringing Terms of Endearment to the stage with the knowledge that the audience will be comparing some of our best film stars, i.e. Jack Nicholson, Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, Danny DeVito. Probably an undertaking best left untouched.
Terms of Endearment 59e59Theaters – 212 279-4200 thru December 11 – Run Time 2 hours (including 15 min. intermission) www.59e59.org
Photos: Carol Rosegg