NY Theater Review by Sandi Durell
“Now I’m dizzy,” “It’s too hot,” I don’t know what the f*#% I’m doing up here,” tea, tea. . .” – the disintegration of Audrey Langham (Linda Lavin), actress, reduced to playing Medea at a Chicago production, in a red garish costume and wig, (Michael Krass, costumes) opens the show. If you saw “The Lyons” last year at the Vineyard Theatre (that moved to the Cort Theater on Broadway) with the impeccable Linda Lavin, you’d think she’s been type cast as a pain in the ass, self-absorbed egocentric mother.
It seems Audrey just can’t keep it together any longer as she flees the stage and runs off to insert herself on her anxiety-ridden school-teacher daughter Kitty (Jennifer Westfeldt) and her husband Dennis (Ken Barnett), an ad man who is taking the summer off to write a non-descript sci-fi novel at their Cape Cod beach house (scenic design Donyale Werle). It also appears that the egotistical diva has lost her home and money given her five former husbands and lawyers.
Since Kitty’s anger at her mother knows no bounds, she doesn’t hide her feelings, hoping Audrey will go away. She plays the blame game unrelentingly, accusing Audrey (among other things) of sending her understudy to her wedding because she was opening in a play.
Nicky Silver, playwright of both “The Lyons” and “Too Much Sun,” seems to be writing a continuing saga. But whereas The Lyons had the right mix of Lavin’s droll well-delivered humor, and still does here, there’s a beat missing with the variety of subplots that are thrown into the fray. There’s next door neighbor Lucas (Matt Dickson), a young wealthy kid about to go off to college, who makes his money selling pot to the local maids and the police, and who’s usually stoned. He had the unfortunate horror of finding his mother dead after she committed suicide, leaving him in perpetual rage. And there’s his Waspy father Winston (Richard Bekins), who has lived an unemotional, loveless life ever since.
As soon as Audrey hears about Winston, her wheels begin to turn in his direction, conspiring to marry him as an answer to her financial woes. Meanwhile, her agent’s yes-man Gil (Matt Dellapina), who is not religious but wants to be a Rabbi, is sent racing out to bring her back.
As things progress, an unrealistic affair develops between Lucas and Dennis; Audrey thinks she’s wooing Winston in a zany scene singing “Surabaya Johnny,” with German-sounding cchhaas; and . . . Kitty becomes pregnant (I won’t say who’s the father).
With Nicky Silver’s penchant for funny neurotics, this absurdist comedy is perfect for Linda Lavin who always gives a stunning performance as a comedic master, finding her equal in Jennifer Westfeldt.
Mark Brokaw, who also directed The Lyons, keeps his finger on the pulse but seems to have a more difficult time keeping it steady.
*Photos; Carol Rosegg
“Too Much Sun” – Vineyard Theatre, 108 East 15th Street, NYC
212 353-0303 www.vineyardtheatre.org thru June 22nd. Running Time: 2 Hours with intermission.