My first exposure to " 'Night Mother" was the film with Sissy Spacek and Anne Bancroft and I remember thinking, "I bet this is so much better on stage." As director Gavin Hoffman says in his notes " 'Night Mother" is an oft-talked about, but rarely seen play." And so, how very fortunate we are that it is being staged in the intimate CoHo Theater. I won't give away the central plot point, but I will say that as I sat there with my white-knuckled hands against my ears at the end, I was not self-conscious. If I had to pick one show that is currently running as a "must-see" it is " 'Night Mother" hands-down. And hurry, it is a brief run, which ends Nov. 8th. If one of the two actresses does not win a Drammy for her work, something is very wrong.
Adam Bock must have had one hell of an office job at one time. His work reflects the tedium and monotony like no one else. While "The Receptionist" was much darker, "The Typographer's Dream" might be just slightly more incisive. I would have never thought that the nature of your job could subconsciously influence how you speak in your leisure time. I'm sure the repetitiveness of the narrative is intentional, but for this reason you may be glad that the show is a lean seventy-five minutes. There is however a unexpected and brilliantly goofy dance by Laura Faye Smith that breaks things up nicely, in fact it's worth the price of admission all by itself.
Darius Pierce's performance of a breathless monologue at the beginning of "Middletown" is reason enough to see the show. He has the best moments in the show. His delivery of a line as a tourist telling a guide "let me take a picture of you being wrong" is priceless. "Middletown"'s funniest humor comes from lines like that, another stand-out is when a nurse remarks, "I always thought 'Botulism' sounded like a philosophy of poor choices." Be warned that the play is very odd, I'm not sure I understood it all, but for some people "odd" is a selling-point. But, once again, the biggest draw for me was Darius Pierce, I hadn't realized how much I have missed his totally unique stage-presence.
"Exiles" is the story of Cubans fleeing their country for Miami during a mass exodus known as The Mariel Boatlift. The projections in the show are beautiful, and Bobby Bernea absolutely steals the show as "The Lunatic", a character representing the many criminals and mental patients released by Castro to embarrass the United States.
There was one minor disappointment with the projections: "The Lunatic" has a flashback scene describing the political cartoons which made him run afoul of the government. There is a verbal description of one involving Castro and a pineapple, and judging by the laughter from the roughly one-fourth of the audience who could see it, I felt like I missed something important.
"Exiles" is a lean and tense drama that is worth seeing, especially for Bermea's performance, which is sure to rank among the best of the season.